Help African Journalists Tell Africa's Stories

 
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Children at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine
Children at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine

        "The mystery of storytelling is the miracle of a single living seed which can populate whole acres of human minds." 

                                                                         ~ Ben Okri / Nigerian novelist

Dear Africa Film Project Supporter,

Greetings from Uganda!  

We are visiting the Pearl of Africa this month, in part, to spend time with journalists from six African countries and listen and learn from their stories.  These stories will inform our future program development and we hope our talented filmmakers will one day be able to tell them on film thanks to your generous support of the Africa Film Project.

From the women at Nakasero market who spend their days preparing grasshoppers to sell as a local snack, to the children lifting their melodic voices in preparation for services at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, Uganda is a treasure trove of stories both complicated and compelling.

On June 3, 2015 an estimated two million people made their way to the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine to remember the dozens of people burned to death in the late 1880s for their refusal to renounce their faith.  This site, so important to Ugandan history, will make national and international headlines in November when Pope Francis becomes the third reigning pope to visit the shrine.

As we reflect on our past and look to the future we welcome your help in brainstorming ideas for a new name -- while we will continue our work in Africa -- we have been asked to expand the program to other countries thus the need for a name more global in nature.

With our gratitude for your continued support,

Caroline Comport

The Media Project

Yvonne
Yvonne

"Great stories happen to those who can tell them" 

                                   ~ Ira Glass / 21st Century Journalist and Storyteller

Dear Africa Film Project Supporter,

This month we have exciting news to share about one of our Africa Film Project graduates!

Journalist and filmmaker Yvonne of Cameroon is one of 15 finalists eligible to receive a Women Deliver scholarship.

More on the Women Deliver scholarship in a moment, but first a look at how your support helped Yvonne gain international recognition.

As part of our 2011 weeklong documentary bootcamp in South Africa, Yvonne received a video camera kit, a laptop loaded with editing software and coaching from Africa Film Project Director, Jody Hassett Sanchez, whose documentary SOLD: Fighting the New Global Slave Trade has been broadcast in more than 50 countries.

After this intensive week, Yvonne produced a rough cut on the practice of breast ironing in Cameroon. With guidance and feedback from Sanchez, Yvonne continued to refine her film. Shortly after Yvonne's breast ironing film was posted on our website, CNN did their own version of the story.

Yvonne's reporting on this issue also attracted the attention of the Cameroonian government, which joined her "Gender Danger" campaign to end the practice of breast ironing.

As we celebrate her success, please consider visiting the Women Deliver website and voting for Yvonne by March 20th -- the link is provided at the end of this report.  The top three winners will receive a scholarship to attend the Women Deliver's 2016 conference in Denmark.

We are grateful for your support in helping aspiring filmmakers and look forward to bringing you many more success stories about our graduates in the months ahead.

With our gratitude,

Caroline

Caroline Comport

The Media Project

Links:

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”

                                 ~ Brandon Sanderson / The Way of Kings

Dear Africa Film Project Supporter,

As we close out another year we want to thank you for your continued support of our vision to equip African filmmakers with the skills they need to tell the important stories of their countries.  In a world filled with data, stories have the power to connect across oceans, generations, and cultures.  They help us understand our place in the world and as author Brandon Sanderson keenly points out, storytellers can give us the "questions to think upon."

While we work towards our full funding goal of the Africa Film Project we are thinking upon an important question about the future of the program. We are currently considering a request to organize the next documentary bootcamp for young journalists in India during the summer of 2015. 

Our team is reaching out to possible partners in this venture as well as working to identify potential candidates for the bootcamp program.

There are many stories waiting to be told and we won't find them without asking the right questions.

With our gratitude and best wishes for 2015!

Caroline

Caroline Comport

The Media Project

Togo student/former child slave
Togo student/former child slave

A story doesn't argue principles but it does proffer understanding of ideas and their consequences ... when such things are embodied in the lives of fully realized characters.

                           - James Calvin Schaap

The characters in our students' documentaries take us beyond the simplistic headlines about Africa that we are so often offered. The Africans they introduce us to are fully formed individuals who work and play and wrestle with hardships and affect extraordinary change, rather than the one dimensional "Africans" frequently presented in news clips by visiting journalists. Their films remind us that there's a world larger than the one that we inhabit. Their work persuades us of the compelling need to train and support these local story-tellers so we can all benefit from their work.

Right now our graduates are interviewing and filming the characters who will appear in their next short documentaries. They're working in Liberia, Cameroon, Kenya and one, as an African exile struggling to adapt to life in the US. Our role is to mentor them from afar, review and help them revise their films, then partner with them to find the best international venues for their work.

We are currently considering organizing our next documentary bootcamp for young journalists in India next summer. In the months ahead, we will be working to identify candidates for the program and mapping out possible partnerships with existing organizations on the ground.

Dear AFP Supporter,

As the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has been shared around the world, one of our Africa Film Project participants based in Nigeria offers this perspective on covering the Boko Haram story:

“We have reported and made it clear that most of the girls abducted were Christians and Chibok is a Christian community," but he adds that this important local context was not included in much of the early international reporting on this story.

Stories, like life, contain intricate layers and nuances that are not easily explained in a sound bite shot by a foreign crew.

We believe those who live in a community are better equipped to capture those nuances and take us into the heart of the story in a way that helps us cross cultures and borders.

It is our hope that the Africa Film Project will allow Africans to tell the stories of their homeland in their own voice. And in hearing their stories, we might better understand their struggles and their triumphs.

As we work towards our goals for the Africa Film Project, we are also investigating and testing new camera and editing software options that will allow our students to tell their stories in a more budget-friendly way and permit us to train even more young journalist-filmmakers.

We welcome your insights,

With our gratitude,

The Africa Film Project Team

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Project Leader

Caroline Comport

Washington, DC, United States

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