Africa-based filmmaker development organization Realness Institute has unveiled its next wave of initiatives as part of MIP Africa and FAME (Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment) Week.
As part of the event, which is now in its second year in Cape Town, South Africa, alumni of six Realness Institute programs will pitch their films and television series to the market in The Film Pitch and The Episodic Pitch forums. Alongside this, the current cohort of the Institute’s Southern Africa Locarno Industry Academy (SALIA) have programmed and co-organized the FAME Week Africa Short Film Festival.
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Writer-directors from the seventh edition of the Realness African Screenwriters’ Residency program, which has nurtured films that have completed and been awarded at Sundance, Berlinale and Toronto among others, will be pitching. The residency has supported 48 feature films from 21 countries across the continent so far. This year’s cohort are from Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa and have just completed six weeks of creative incubation. Producer and co-founder of Realness Institute, Cait Pansegrouw will present the film pitch that takes place Sept. 4.
After three years of running its episodic labs in partnership with Netflix, Series Mania, and Storyboard Collective, Realness Institute features the best of African series in development with renowned writers like Neo Sybia and Angela Wamai among those pitching at the The Episodic Pitch. Eight shows, six of which are from female creators, covering a range of genres from Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa will be presented. The episodic labs have developed 22 television shows from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa with three greenlights. Producer and co-founder of Realness Institute, Mehret Mandefro will moderate the pitch on Sept. 5.
2022 Realness Episodic Lab alumna Neo Sibiya who is pitching her project, neo-noir #MeToo thriller “Ukushona Kwelanga” (“The Setting of the Sun”), said: “It helped me to find my voice and confidence in my writing. It really woke me up to the power of trusting and tapping into what I want to say and how.”
Mandefro added: “We are truly pleased that our presence at FAME Week Africa, with some 40 talent that have come through our industry development programs over the last three years, is a manifestation of the organization’s tangible contribution to the film sector’s ecosystem. It has been our objective to work towards nurturing all parts of the value chain – from development to producing features and episodic series, to programming, exhibition and distribution.”
African Screenwriters’ Residency Pitches
Amartei Armar – Ghana
“Ever Young” | Afro-mystic period drama
The death of a father heavily impacts a young Ghanaian-American photographer, Julie Ama Quartey. Through a spiritual inclination to remain in Ghana, she reconnects with her last surviving grandparent; one of Ghana’s first pioneering photographers – Augustus Quartey. Through Augustus’ disjointed obscure memories of one glorious night in 1960’s Accra and Julie Ama’s own complex love affair with the country in the present day, “Ever Young” is a non-linear pilgrimage of two distant generations both desperate to escape traumatic pasts and reimagine the dreams they have for what the future can hold.
Babalwa Baartman – South Africa
“Eziko” | Afro-noir musical
Ntsundukazi, a young Xhosa woman, embarks on an investigation across rural Eastern Cape to solve the cold case of her sister’s disappearance. Her relentless interrogation leads her to an esteemed clan in Mpondoland, where she is met with suspicious resistance from the village. There, she cunningly navigates the festive ceremonies, infiltrating the customary femme space, Eziko, threatening the secrets of an aloof Nyembezi matriarch. Ntsundukazi ultimately discovers a truth that challenges
her beliefs about culture, family and identity.
Chadi Zeneddine – Lebanon
“This Is What They Call Us” | Mystical coming-of-age drama
Walid (18), a Syrian refugee fleeing the war and hoping to get to Europe ends up stuck in a village in the mountains of Lebanon. He is taken in by Omar (17) and his family, who are from the Druze faith. As they develop a special bond, Omar and Walid realise that they may have met before… in a previous life.
Chantel Clark – South Africa
“Pale Faces” | Horror
In the late 18th century, in the Dutch Cape Colony, the imprisonment of a revered imam in exile forces his unmarried daughter, Abiona, into the service of Van Thiel, an officer of the Dutch East India Company. At his estate on the boundary of the settlement, Abiona learns of Van Thiel’s obsession to cure an idiopathic blood disease afflicting him and his children. Believing he could be convinced to help free her father, Abiona manoeuvres her way into Van Thiel’s graces by dedicating herself to the pursuit of the cure, but she soon realizes that he regards her as part of his study, as though she held the missing piece of a puzzle he feared could never be solved.
Michael Omonua – Nigeria
“Galatians” | Satirical drama
Theater practitioner Mama (51) hires actor Julius (38) as pastor in her new church; staged miracle healings lead to rapid growth. But Mama’s daughter Marie’s opposition risks their dreams, setting the church on a collision course for survival.
Realness Institute Episodic Pitches
“Enkop” (“Soil”) – Kenya
Written by Angela Wanjiku Wamai
Genre: Neo-western drama series. Format: 8 x 60’
Logline: After her husband shoots himself in the head, Lorna Marwa fights to regain control of her life on the dusty expanses of Kenya’s volatile ranch land.
“South African Crime Story” – South Africa
Written by Chantel Clark
Genre: Crime drama. Format: 8 x 60’
Logline: 1992. As South Africa transitions from oppressive regime to land of freedom, past and future collide when new detective Charlotte Ngoyi goes up against celebrated occult crime expert Dr. Johannes Auret on her first murder investigation.
“BushCamp” – Kenya
Written by Hussein Kurji
Genre: Satirical drama. Format: 6 x 45’
Logline: When estranged siblings inherit their late father’s luxury Bushcamp, they must work together, despite conflicting interests, to manage jaded staff, deal with eccentric guests and outsmart their scheming stepmother, who’s out to seize the Bushcamp for herself.
“KwaLanga” (“Place of the Sun”) – South Africa
Written by Mlilo Mpondo
Genre: Suspense thriller. Format: 8 x 60’
Logline: “KwaLanga” is a story about a nation that has lost its meaning ‘umntu ngumntu ngabantu’ (I am because you are). After surviving a national trauma and returning to itself, and finding the pieces of themselves that they lost along the way.
“To Lagos With Love” – Nigeria
Written by Sandra Madu
Genre: Romantic dramedy. Format: 8 x 40’
Logline: Amarachi, a disillusioned Nigerian-Canadian, uproots her life in Vancouver and relocates to Lagos for a fresh start in love and career. But as she chronicles her journey through her newfound podcast, she realizes life in this chaotic city isn’t all she’s imagined it to be.
“Fafi” – South Africa
Written by Dominique Jossie
Genre: Crime drama. Format: 8 x 44’
Logline: When a debt-ridden journalist inherits an illegal Chinese gambling empire, she unearths the chilling truth behind her family’s secret past.
“Ukushona Kwelanga” (“The Setting of the Sun”) – South Africa
Written by Neo Sibiya
Genre: Neo-noir #MeToo thriller. Format: 6 x 30’
Logline: When Anathi kills her close-friend-turned-rapist Lesley, in a fit of rage, she must find a way to heal.
“Byline” – South Africa
Written by Khanyo Mjamba
Genre: Buddy comedy. Format: 4 x 30’
Logline: Mwali, a bumbling journalist teams up with his exuberant friend Phillip on a desperate charade after he accidentally publishes a fictional story that goes viral.
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