WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship

by Mirabel Pictures / WeOwnTV
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WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
Hi Everyone,
This is Fatimah Dadzie a WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellow alumni from 2018. I am thrilled to be able to bring this update to you all for my film Fati's Choice which I developed during the fellowship. The film will have its world premiere at Dokleipzig Festival, and its UK premiere at Afrika Eye Film Festival in the next couple weeks. 

We also just launched a micro project to help raise funds for our community engagement program that aims to inspire debate on the causes and societal impact of irregular migration. We are also raising funds to support Fati's business and her children's education. SUPPORT US HERE

Below is some information about the film, but before I sign off I want to say thank you to all of you for supporting the WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship. Being selected to be part of the fellowship was an exciting period for me and the first support I received for Fati's Choice. I had always loved to tell stories but the skill to develop them into a film documentary was nonexistent. However, through the fellowship, I was able to garner the courage to venture into documentary filmmaking and gained significant support from the Generation Africa program and others. 

Director’s Intent

Growing up, I had a lot of family members who traveled abroad and never made it back for the fear of being called a failure. Those who made it home had to do the extreme to impress family members and friends. Why should that be?

So when I met Fati,  the very few people who after going through challenges of getting into Europe are able to independently make the decision to return home voluntarily, I was in awe. I took inspiration from her bold decision as a female to come back home regardless of societal pressure and difficulties to build a better life for herself and her children.

I got to know Fati through a cousin of mine who also tried crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. After talking to Fati, I knew she's the one. Although her economic situation seems tough, Fati exudes positivity and gives hope to those who might be in a similar situation.

This story is my very personal way of exploring the issue of stigma associated with returned migrants especially women who are trying their best to support their families. 

With Grattitude,

Fatimah Dadzie

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Hi Everyone,

My name is Orehmide, and I am a WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellow. I am so pleased to be able to share some information about my supported film Teenage Dropouts.

Brief Background

Teenage pregnancy and early motherhood have been identified as one of the most prevalent child abuse practices in Sierra Leone. It constitutes a national and community-wide problem, with a prevalence of 68% pregnancy rate among sexually experienced teenage girls, with a mean age of 15 and 28% of teenage boys having caused a pregnancy.

Most people believe that the increase in the rate of teenage pregnancy was due to the Ebola crisis and the emergency measures put in place to respond to it. This resulted in teenagers having more spare time in their hands.

Port Loko District, which lies in the Northern Province, is the most populous District in Sierra Leone after the Western Area Urban. Though the problem of teenage pregnancy is widespread in Sierra Leone, the rate at which it is increasing in communities around Portloko District is alarming. With hundreds of teenage girls dropping out of schools, villages/communities around the Northern District is rapidly becoming a breeding ground for teenage mothers who are now languishing in extreme poverty, with little or no hope for the future.  

The documentary project

Teenage Dropouts centers on the characters of two teenage girls whose untimely pregnancies lead to their expulsion from school, much to the anger and disappointment of their parents. These girls long to return to school but can not raise funds to support their education, but are, saddled with the burden of child responsibilities.

These girls strive for their livelihood on the farmlands and in the forest in conditions that are hazardous to their health. The plights of these girls mirror the lives of hundreds of their peers who are trapped in similar conditions in various communities in the Port Loko District. 

Teenage pregnancy and early motherhood are on the increase in Sierra Leone, especially in the provinces, as it constitutes a social, community, and nationwide problem. It also poses health risks for the mother like fistula, premature labor; they are more likely to be in poverty, are unemployed, and have lower salaries and educational achievements than their peers. Their future should be addressed to bring about social change as it relates to women's empowerment. 

The Characters

Khadija is a suckling mother who now lives in Rolal village after her father sent her packing from Mathaska to live with the man who impregnated her just when she was about to take the Basic Education Certificate Examination(BECE) for entry to senior secondary school. She will not be accepted back until she takes and passes her Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). The irony is that the father of her baby is a teacher. On leaving her village, Mathaska, with no relatives to take her in as instructed by her father, she had to relocate to Rolal and live with the father of her baby. Taking lessons from the father of her child and surviving in his meagre stipend as a teaching assistant, she has taken her pending exams and is now a Senior Secondary School student.

Isatu is a 19 year old mother of three, who had wanted to go back to school. At 15, Isatu was impregnated by her school mate, John, and had to leave school. This angered her father who drove her out of his house. She sought refuge in her Aunt's house. At 17, she had her second child and she is now 19 with her third child. After having her first child, she yearned to go back to school, but as the funds were not available, she had to concentrate on the farm work on her Aunt's farm for survival. She had her second and now has a third child at 19. According to her, going back to school is impossible with three children to take care of. She is, however, looking for a better means of survival as compared to her present farm work. It could be in the form of skills acquisition or petty trading, as life is very difficult for her in Mathaska Village.

Future Plans

We have completed the production stage of the documentary has been completed and are getting ready to work with an editor. Our distribution plan will focus on community events within Sierra Leone. We plan to screen the film in schools, mainly in rural areas, and each screening will be followed with a talkback session. If possible, the characters could also be present to share their stories. Community viewing would be an interactive session with youths, elders of the community and parents present. 

We also are reaching out to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, and the Health Education Department for possible partnerships. It could also be viewed through a YouTube Channel or our local TV channels.

My Motivation and Conclusion

As a Director, I consider film to be the most powerful medium of communication more than the print and electronic form of communication. Film is visual as it tells the story as it is rather than as it should be. My motivation for this story came about after my stay in Portloko. I worked with the Ministry of Health on a family planning and contraceptive program. During my stay in Portloko, I came across so many young promising girls who are pregnant, suckling mothers, single parents, who had dropped out of school. Engaging them, I learnt that after giving birth, they could not go back to school as they had either been thrown out by their parents or there is no money to take care of a baby and school financial obligations at the same time.

Alternatively, there is no other form of education or employment. They had to depend on farm work for survival. In the capital city, Freetown, it is different as there are informal and skills acquiring schools/centres available to map out a future for themselves. As a woman and a filmmaker, looking at the plight of these young girls, I want to use film to tell their stories and hope that it will have a positive impact in their lives. Whereby, government policies will be geared towards young mothers in the provincial areas and NGOs whose mandate might fall within this scope, could step in and help in alleviating the situation.

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Tyson & Mariama, from Coronavirus Wahala
Tyson & Mariama, from Coronavirus Wahala

Dear GlobalGiving supporters, 

This report is from a filmmaker fellow Tyson, who in addition to working on his supported project, Speaking Through Dreams, has produced some amazing reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Hello Everyone,

I wanted to share with you some of my reporting activities over the past year which I am very proud of because it was all about contributing to fight the world's most dangerous enemy of our time.

When COVID-19 outbreak reached my country, Sierra Leone, in March of 2020, I was approached by BBC Africa Eye television to direct an episodic series investigating how the COVID-19 outbreak is unfolding in my city. Initially, I was contracted for just two episodes with the possibility to extend depending on how strong those episodes will be. In the end, I was hired to produce six episodes. The title of the series was “Wahala: Coronavirus in Sierra Leone". Wahala is a local word that means fear, panic, trouble, chaos. This series is up on social media platforms of the BBC and has hundreds of thousands of views. (I will share the direct link below).

While filming, I came across a certain group of sex workers whose story we found very interesting. I wanted to make a longer version of their story and pitched the idea to the BBC. I am proud to announce that they loved the idea and I have just completed directing the film "Lady P and the Sex Workers" which is a 55 minutes doc. It is set for its world premiere on the 8th of February 2021 on all BBC and BBC partner televisions, BBC radio and BBC partner radios, all social media platforms. I hope you will tune in to watch.

As a WeOwnTv filmmaker fellow, I am very proud of this achievement. I want to thank weOwnTV for believing I me many years, ago and for continuing to support me with mentorship and guidance and my career advances. I am focused now o completing my very personal project, "Speaking Through Dreams". We are still raising funds for this project and I am urging you all to consider a contribution, it is a good cause and you all will be proud of our work when the end product comes out.

Thank you all for supporting

Tyson

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Fatmata pictured in local paper after her death
Fatmata pictured in local paper after her death

Here is an update on my film Speaking Through Dreams.

The death of my girlfriend Fatmata was not only devastating to her close family and friends, but it was regarded as a tragedy across the country. Our local papers covered the story, and I recently found an original copy of one of the articles. This began a new inquiry to follow some of the leads in that story as a part of the film. I reached out to the Dr. who was interviewed for the story. He was the same doctor who performed the autopsy on my Fatmata. It was very difficult to reach him as he is the only Pathologist in the whole country. He has not yet agreed to be filmed on camera but did agree to meet and discuss. Either way, I am planning to meet him in Freetown within the month to ask him about it all. I have also contacted the journalist who covered the story and he has now consented to an interview for the film. We have learned through our investigation that multiple people were involved in changing the result of Fatmata’s autopsy, including and we are confident that justice will be served through our efforts.

If you need a refresher on the details of Fatmata's story, here is the logline again for our film:

Speaking Through Dreams is a haunting, bold and genre-bending film. As the Protagonist and director, I embark on a spiritual journey to investigate, the unnerving circumstances surrounding the death of my girlfriend Fatmata, who bled to death after a forced female circumcision ritual. My mission is driven by the fact that, shortly after her death, she appears nonstop in my dreams angry, crying and restless and insisted that I bring the genuine cause of her death to light for her to rest in peace.

I saw my Fatmata in my dreams again two days ago. She is angry but understanding that things have not yet turned out the way we wanted. There is so much uncertainty in the world right now and for me personally my responsibilities have increased with the passing of my mother. She was also very forgiving of her mother who has now admitted to the truth on camera of the circumstances behind Fatmata’s death. After this confession and her mother has been offering prayers and pleading with her on her grave for forgiveness. In the dream, we also discuss recreating the dreams in the film and some very fond memories that we both never forget. She suggested filming with birds peacefully living in the forest. At first, I was still skeptical, not sure of what would be best for the film, but in my respect for her, I have decided I will film a scene with birds in the forest. 

Your support has been so valuable to our team as we continue this project. I look forward to sending another update soon. Our team has been busy editing and I have commissioned a new editor to begin work on a new work sample. We have been in close contact with our grantors (WeOwnTV and HotDocs BlueIce Group) and they are helping us find new partners to support the film. If you are able to support the project again, it would be so meaningful as we move towards bringing the project into the world and launching our campaign to help eradicate FGM in Sierra Leone.

With Gratitude,

Tyson

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I am here to report on my new project, MFINFINI (Somewhere In-between) which tackles the issue of maternal, post-partum depression. Having lost my mother to severe depression, this is a very personal project to me - and a project that addresses a subject that is difficult to talk openly and honestly about. As a Ghanaian and a Black African, I feel the need to acknowledge recent events and another deep-seated problem we have all just begun to open up to. The recent killing of George Floyd, an innocent black man by a white police officer in the US is devastating. But we are seeing through this tragedy, a global uprising to address the problem of hate crime and systemic racism. I was very proud of my president's comments earlier this week and I want to share them here:

"Black people, the world over, are shocked and distraught by the killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in the United States of America. It carried with it an all too painful familiarity and an ugly reminder. It cannot be right that, in the 21st century, the United States, this great bastion of democracy, continues to grapple with the problem of systemic racism.

On behalf of the people of Ghana, I express my deep condolences to the family and loved ones of the late George Floyd. We stand with our kith and kin in America in these difficult and trying times, and we hope that the unfortunate, tragic death of George Floyd will inspire a lasting change in how America confronts head-on the problems of hate and racism." - Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

I personally feel it’s a new dawn for deep systemic change - the world is ready for it - I am ready for. It is in that spirit that I want to now address another issue that is seldom discussed in my country and that is the issue of mental health and depression. The WeOwnTV fellowship program has been a great journey for me and I have gained a lot of insight and inspiration for my work. MFINFIN (Somewhere In-between) is a mixed-genre project that explores maternal depression, a common but taboo subject in Ghana. A short narrative film tells the story of a woman named ESI who’s thrown into an unstable mental state after losing her child at birth. This fictionalized account of ESI’s story is also presented alongside a documentary about four mothers who experienced postpartum depression, a podcast series and a comic book. These elements together will serve to curtail the stigma around the topic of depression and bring awareness to all communities on o how to support women through this process. 

The film tackles the issues of depression on new mothers from pre-natal to post-natal and the experience can lead to long term mental illness. I want to go straight to the core and have it felt deep in your heart so we can get to the challenges related to identity, religion, and superstitious beliefs that these women face. We have filmed some footage and in constant contact with our characters by providing support and lend a listening ear. We believe that the support and zeal will enable us to push on and motivate the team to produce this project that will shine a light on the plight of invincible mothers in our community.

All my best,

Lawrence 

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Organization Information

Mirabel Pictures / WeOwnTV

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WeOwnTV
Project Leader:
Banker White
San Francisco, CA United States
$27,946 raised of $35,000 goal
 
214 donations
$7,054 to go
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