Following an exciting first year of searching for, identifying and nurturing groundbreaking African stories, Realness Pan African Screenwriters’ Residency reflects proudly on their inaugural year of championing African film and putting focus on story development.
Presented by pioneering film company Urucu Media, Realness was established in 2016 with the aim of providing the best talent on the continent with the space, time and support necessary to create and develop their vision. “Five screenwriter/directors were selected to participate in 2016 and each was in a different stage of development with their feature fiction projects which, combined with their diversity of backgrounds, made the residency an invigorating and stimulating experience,” says Realness founder Elias Riberio. “We will do everything within our reach to see these projects transition from the concept to the page and finally to the screen.” After attending Durban FilmMart (DFM) as Durban Talents in 2016, the Realness residents worked at Nirox in the Cradle of Humankind for 6 weeks under the mentorship of Nadja Dumochel and Selina Ukwuoma. Following this, they had a further 6 weeks to polish their work from home and submit the drafts to the awards committees. Kenyan writer/director Amira Tajdin’s script for Hawa Hawaii (in the fourth draft when selected for the residency) was awarded three invitations from her participation. Her producer Wafa Tajdin attended Torino Meetings Event, a financing market in Turin, Italy where she secured international co-producers.
They have been invited to attend La Fabrique des Cinemas du Monde in Cannes this year followed by a pre-production and financing workshop at MIDPOINT in Macedonia (June) and Prague in October. South African writer/ director Wim Steytler’s project Uitlander, which was in first draft on selection, went on to be invited to three international platforms including the NFVF/CNC co-production workshop in Paris, EAVE Producer’s Workshop and more recently La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde in Cannes.
Steytler says “I have new hope for the South African film industry where auteur driven films can be celebrated locally and reach an international audience. Realness is tangibly facilitating a new wave in African cinema.”
Madagascar, writer/director Luck Razanajaona who brought his film Disco Afrika to the residency at third draft says that participation in the residency gave him an opportunity to develop a clear structure and characters. Through the partnership between DFM and Realness, Luck also took his project to Cinemart in Rotterdam and won a cash award from Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie Ethiopian filmmaker Hiwot Admasu, whose project A Fool of God was in its treatment phase upon coming to Realness, used the time in the residency to further develop the central themes and begin the screenwriting process. She was awarded participation to the Locarno Filmmakers Academy in Switzerland and upon arrival won another residency award; she had another three months of writing in Wintitour.
Finally, South African filmmaker Sheetal Magan participated in Realness with her feature film concept The Day and Night of Brahma, which also came into the residency as a treatment. “Gaining exposure to the script consultants took me to a deeper and more considered exploration of my film,” says Magan. Looking ahead, the Realness team is assessing applications to the second edition. Over a hundred submissions were made with applications coming in from twenty-five countries across the continent including Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Morocco, Togo, Nigeria and Rwanda. “We worked hard to encourage more applications from the rest of the continent and are proud to have achieved this,” says co-founder Cait Pansegrouw. “Over 70% of our applications came from outside of South Africa this year”. The 2017 edition of Realness takes place in June and July 2017 at the Nirox Foundation, culminating in participation in the Durban FilmMart at the Durban International Film Festival. The announcement of this year’s participants will take place at the Cannes Film Festival.
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