Celebrating its fifth year, Focus Features’ Africa First Program will accept entries beginning this Monday, May 14th and continuing through Monday, August 20th.
The uniquely conceived initiative, with funds earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, is for the fifth consecutive year offering eligible and participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production, and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa and tapping into the resources of the film industry there. The program also brings the filmmakers together with each other and with a renowned group of advisors, major figures in the African film world, for support and mentorship. Past short films to come out of the Program have been showcased at the Sundance, Toronto, London, and Berlin Film Festivals; on The Africa Channel; and with the Museum of the Moving Image and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, among other venues worldwide. A compilation of films completed through the Program is available on DVD and across VOD and EST platforms. Complete details on Africa First – including application information – can be accessed year-round through www.focusfeatures.com/africafirst.
Africa First is supervised by Program Director and producer Kisha Cameron Dingle (…Sometimes in April), whose company, Completion Films, has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus, and who coordinates the Program’s submissions and evaluations with Focus director of development & production Christopher Kopp. In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers of Africa First will visit New York City in the fall of 2012 for a weekend of one-on-one workshop discussions with each other; members of the advisory board of experts in African cinema; such Focus executives as Mr. Schamus and president of production Jeb Brody, covering topics like international distribution and the economics of studio financing; and Mrs. Dingle and Mr. Kopp.
Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today, adding, “In celebrating the fifth anniversary of Africa First this year, we are also celebrating the dynamic and talented group of filmmakers we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with during the Program’s tenure. The kudos and acclaim their films have generated around the world is gratifying, and we look forward to working with them again.”
The submissions period begins on Monday, May 14th, 2012 and runs through Monday, August 20th, 2012. The five filmmakers selected will be notified by October 2012 and will retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.
Completion is developing feature, documentary, and television projects. Its president, Mrs. Dingle, previously worked as director of development at Walden Media, and as an executive at New Line Cinema, where she oversaw the development and production of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.
The Africa First advisory board members are Ms. Mahen Bonetti, founder and executive director of the African Film Festival; journalist and documentary filmmaker Ms. Jihan El-Tahiri; Ms. June Givanni, who for four years programmed the Toronto International Film Festival’s Planet Africa series; Ms. Sharifa Johka, film programmer and independent producer; Mr. Pedro Pimenta, producer and manager of training programs throughout South Africa; and Mr. Keith Shiri, founder/director of the Africa at the Pictures film festival in the U.K.
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Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Moonrise Kingdom, world-premiering as the opening-night film of the 2012 Cannes International Film Festival, the new feature from Wes Anderson, starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman; Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley; Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, the new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA; Jamie Travis’ contemporary comedy For a Good Time, Call…, starring Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller; Closed Circuit, the suspense thriller directed by John Crowley and starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall; Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land, the contemporary drama written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski; the historical tale Hyde Park on Hudson, directed by Roger Michell and starring Academy Award nominees Bill Murray and Laura Linney; and Joe Wright’s epic love story Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Johnson.
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