One of the attractions of Cannes is discovering new cinema and new talent making their entries into the art and industry of Cinema. When I was invited this year to show three Ethiopian filmmakers the market and later to Monaco by the The Emerging Film Talent Association (IEFTA) to see the work of these filmmakers, I was happy to oblige and even happier to discover these filmmakers had an engaging, professionally polished and genuinely devoted interest in the world of film which they had only seen from the far end of the telescope in an almost isolated part of Africa.
The Emerging Film Talent Association identifies and supports film-related creativity in developing countries around the world. Their mission is to discover and promote emerging talent, to encourage dialogue between filmmakers, to promote cultural diversity and international understanding, and to engage the arts of cinema. A Monaco-based, non-profit, non-governmental organization, the IEFTA organizes, finances and promotes festivals, exhibition, education and development.
Three years ago I had been invited by my friends Mitch Levine a festival producer and Gary Springer an international film publicist to attend IEFTA’s first film festival where I met the founders, Max Ryerson and Marco Orsini and the president Noriko Katayanagi-Bonafede. This year I was invited again and was pleased to see that the organization had continued to develop its strategy and in doing so had shifted from holding a festival to hosting filmmakers themselves and introducing them to the larger world of their colleagues.
After selecting Ethiopia at the 2007 Festival, in 2008, the IEFTA launched the GFE initiative in the Federal Republic of Ethiopia. The IEFTA hosted an international conference in Addis Ababa in partnership with the University of Addis Ababa, the Government of Ethiopia, the Embassies of the USA and India and UNESCO. Today, the capital university has a film curriculum, the cultural ministry has a film policy, filmmakers and industry professionals have a union, and local students are showcasing their talents in international workshops and festivals. Eighteen Ethiopian film-makers completed four socially responsible documentary films to promote tolerance and mutual understanding after taking part in a two-week workshop in Addis organized by the Ethiopian Film Initiative in partnership with Addis Ababa University. The training was sponsored by UNESCO.
Next year the training will continue with some of the filmmakers attending the German initiative just launched by Tom Tykwer and Marie Steinmann’s ♀ One Fine Day Films and the Deutsche Welle Akademie which will offer hands-on training to budding African film-makers. FilmAfrica! has been developed from a pilot project the production company ran with U.K.-based charity Anno’s Africa in Nairobi in autumn 2008, while making the film Soul Boy by Ghanaian-Kenyan debutant Hawa Essuman. The scheme will receive $1.4m (€1m) in support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) over the next two years and will also receive support from the Goethe Institut in Nairobi. In addition, the Filmstiftung NRW has awarded $136,137 (€100,000) towards the production costs the next film, which will be shot this autumn. Guy and Siobhain “Ginger” Wilson’s Nairobi-based production house Ginger Ink, which was a co-producer of Soul Boy, will serve as the local partner for FilmAfrica! This year’s project will be more structured than the pilot project of Soul Boy. There will be a series of workshops over a number of months before the actual shoot, and 10 to15 participants will participate in six or seven department workshops. Out of a total of 60-100 people, the crew will be generated before we shooting the movie. On Soul Boy, the film was the workshop. Though the focus is on Kenya some lucky few participants in the workshops come from other East African countries such as Sudan or Ethiopia,
We watched 3 of the documentaries, made with minimal training or equipment and were moved by the heart and soul both the filmmakers and the subjects of the documentaries revealed in the films.
* Team Spirit
Garbis Korajian is a third generation Armenian born and raised in Ethiopia. His family first came to Ethiopia over 120 years ago. He is still passionate about his childhood memories of playing football with his friends in Ethiopia. Coming back to Ethiopia after many years, Garbis decides to help set up a football team for the children in his neighborhood to help provide an atmosphere of harmony and community spirit for the children so they can thrive on the sport and learn to support each other.
Director :- Yeneakal Tamrat
* Dancing For Unity
“Andinet” (Unity) is an emerging dance club led by Henok which perfoms for local communities in Ethiopia, with various cultural dances representing the country’s rich ethnic diversity. Hiwot, a 17 year old talented dancer and the other young members of the club believe traditional dance leads to self-actualization and tolerance.
Director :- Moges Tafesse
* Breaking the Barriers
Ethiopia comes with many faces. It is a country rich with over 80 different ethnic groups, identities and cultures. Distance result in very weak interaction with those groups in remote areas. Moses Riet DAK is an Ethiopian from Gambella region, currently living in the capital city, Addis Ababa. In addition to his regional mother tongue, he speaks fluent Amharic, the vernacular language of Ethiopia. Yet, people ask him where he’s from and point to him as a foreigner. Moses shares his life experience and reflects on interethnic tolerance.
Director :- Yamrot Negussie