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Netflix and UNESCO have teamed up to launch an innovative short film competition in Sub-Saharan Africa called “African Folktales, Reimagined.” The competition’s winners will receive industry training and mentoring, as well as a US$75,000 production budget, to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022 as an “Anthology of African Folktales.”

One of the competition’s main goals is to find fresh perspectives and provide young filmmakers from Sub-Saharan Africa with global exposure. Netflix wants to uncover the most daring, witty, and unexpected retellings of some of Africa’s most beloved folktales and share them with entertainment enthusiasts in over 190 countries.

The competition, which will be administered by Dalberg, will open on 14 October 2021 until 14 November 2021. Each of the 6 winners will receive a production grant of US$75,000 (through a local production company) to develop, shoot and post-produce their films under the guidance of industry mentors selected by UNESCO & Netflix to ensure everyone involved in the production is fairly compensated. In addition, each of the 6 winners will also receive $25,000.

UNESCO and Netflix both strongly believe in the importance of promoting diverse local stories, and bringing them to the world. They recognize that many emerging filmmakers struggle with finding the right resources and visibility to enable them to fully unleash their talents and develop their creative careers. This competition aims to address these issues and enable African storytellers to take a first step towards showcasing their content to a global audience.

This partnership will also help create sustainable employment and encourage economic growth and it will therefore contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a series of targets established by the United Nations which aims to end global poverty in all its forms by the end of this decade.

This film competition will also help reduce inequalities by facilitating access to global markets and by guaranteeing dignified working conditions. All of these are key goals within the 2030 Agenda.

The competition is open to emerging filmmakers across Sub-Saharan Africa on the theme of “African Folktales, Reimagined.” Folktales have always been an important way of passing on culture, heritage, and values to future generations, while constantly inviting people to reimagine their relevance to our contemporary societies.

This theme is inspired by the African Union 2063 Agenda’s Aspiration 5, which celebrates African cultural identity, common heritage, values, and ethics. This competition aims to harness this important tradition with a modern outlook while leveraging new mediums of distributing artistic and creative content, like Netflix.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO said that “It is important that the film sector acts to ensure the voices of Africa are heard, by supporting the emergence of diverse cultural expressions, putting forth new ideas and emotions, and creating opportunities for creators to contribute to global dialogue for peace, culture, and development.”

Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO, and Chief Content Officer, Netflix is excited about the partnership and opportunities ahead. Growing up, entertainment was how I connected with people. I fell in love with the stories and characters I saw on screen and experienced how storytelling has the power to inspire. Together we will promote local cultures and support the creative industries in telling stories that cross borders, reflect universal truths, and ultimately, bring us together.”

Ben Amadasun, Director of Content in Africa, Netflix wants to see Africa’s rich storytelling and wealth of folktales passed down to generations. “When you marry these very local stories with Africa’s emerging talent, there’s no limit to fresh new stories to connect people with African cultures and bring the world that much closer to each other” –

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