“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!
The Media Project
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
The highlights of our last report came from the Netherlands, where thanks to your generious support two of our African Film Project graduates were about to attend the largest documentary film festival in the world today, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).
The objective of the eleven-day festival is to promote creative documentaries and to present them to as wide an audience as possible - screening more than 200 documentaries and attracting nearly 120,000 visitors.
To make the most of the six-days they were able to attend the festival, AFP Director Jody Hassett Sanchez designed an interactive learning module for AFP graduates Stella Oigo of Kenya and Irene Fon Zih of Cameroon. This included film screnings, relevant lectures, and meetings with producers and programmers.
For Stella and Irene, the festival experience added another dimension to both their understanding of the filmmaking process and the challenges they face in telling the important stories of Africa.
"I was startled to hear that Africa has the worst market for documentaries which are distributed around the world to international broadcasters. If that holds true, I am really surprised how that can be when Africa has so many stories happening that are worth telling. However, it reaffirms my belief that as an African filmmaker, I have the responsibility to tell those stories in my community, and with the ability to make them relevant to an international audience by treating universal themes," said Irene.
Stella who describes herself as a filmmaker "hungry for information and direction" listed her three greatest lessons from the festival as:
1. Only fimmakers open to collaboration make great projects.
2. Not all failure is good but failure is essential in filmmaking.
3. If you don't pursue big ideas, you will get small results.
In addition to these valuable lessons, attending the festival allowed us to make promising connections for future development of the Africa Film Project.
Thanks to each of you for helping Stella and Irene learn new ways to tell the many important stories of Africa.
With our gratitude,
The AFP Team
Greetings from Amsterdam, where thanks to your generous support we are making progress on our shared mission to help African journalist filmmakers craft new ways to tell the stories of their homeland.
AFP Director Jody Hassett Sanchez is currently guiding Stella Oigo of Kenya and Irene Fon Zih of Cameroon through the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). IDFA boasts Europe’s oldest and largest co-financing and co-production market. The festival also presents an excellent opportunity for our students to screen cutting-edge documentaries, attend workshops about the craft of filmmaking and introduce themselves to top festival programmers and broadcasters.
"IDFA is helping me understand the importance of creating a distribution strategy during preproduction of my documentaries, says Irene.
"I've met some inspiring people who are sharing their work on merging technology and filmmaking and I plan to incorporate these ideas both online and offline when I return to Cameroon."
Stella and Irene, both AFP program participants, have shown tremendous creativity and dedication to bringing their visions to video in the face of numerous challenges. While in Amsterdam they are also testing new equipment for future AFP participants.
"This is my first time at a film festival and a lot of my questions are getting answered here, says Stella. I'm learning all aspects of pitching, financing and distribution. "
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