Six young creatives from across the continent have been selected for the 2022 Realness African Screenwriters’ Residency, set to take place in South Africa and Switzerland.
The eight-week-long incubator programme combines scriptwriting seminars, research master classes and finance workshops.
The six participants will be mentored and supported to help nurture and develop their skills to thrive in the filmmaking space.
This year, Realness Institute has collaborated with Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, to allow the six participants to attend the creative incubation programme called “Basecamp” from August 3 to 13.
Founded in 1946, the annual Locarno Film Festival screens films in various competitive and non-competitive sections, including feature-length narrative, documentary, short, avant-garde, and retrospective programmes.
We caught up with the two local filmmakers Jabu Nadia Newman and Asanda Sandulela before they jet off to Switzerland to kick start their exciting residency journey.
“I'm so honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to just spend eight weeks focusing on my writing and my script,” said Newman.
“I've always wanted to develop my writing more, but you don't usually always have time to do that and to find the time to just be in a perfect environment, to create that space, to be conducive for your creativity and your thinking, and to just be away from the city and just from home life,” she said.
According to Newman, the residency affords her an opportunity to focus on sharpening her skills when sharing ideas with like-minded colleagues from across the world.
“Realness is so well respected. It is supported by so many other great residencies, organisations and grants.
“So I just think it's such a perfect platform to start the development process because once you go through this residency, there will be so many other opportunities outside of that,” she said.
Elaborating on the inspiration behind her film project “For Our Mother”, Newman said: “The film is a personal story told through three generations of women; daughter, mother and a grandmother, what their relationship looks like, and specifically looking at coloured identity and mental health within the coloured communities”
Newman is an award-winning artist and filmmaker who specialises in photography and videography.
Using an agenda of pushing intersectional-feminism, her work is largely based on the different and complex identities of South African women.
She independently wrote and directed South Africa’s newest and critically-acclaimed feminist web series, “The Foxy Five”.
In 2020, Newman was commissioned by Nowness, British Film Institute and the British Council to write and direct a short film exploring diaspora aesthetics and issues of afro-futurism, “The Dream That Refused Me”, which won two awards at the Ciclope Africa Awards Festival 2021, as well as a Silver Cannes Young Director Award.
Her latest short film “Inside Out” premiered at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival 2021.
More recently, Newman won Bronze for the Shots EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) 2021 New Director of the Year Award.
Echoing Newman’s statements, Sandulela said she is thrilled to be part of this great initiative.
“Well, just being selected was really big for me. They got applications from all over the continent, as well as overseas, who are coming with different levels of experience, ideas and imaginations and to know that a story of mine can make it there, especially because I've only really been in the industry for about four years – is a really big affirmation that I’m on the right path – doing the right thing,” explained Sandulela.
“The Realness Institute is made up of very high-profile industry players who have been part of important projects that have come out of Africa like Inxeba (The Wound), This is Not a Burial It’s a Resurrection. It's really gratifying to get the stamp of approval from them,” she said.
For her residency, Sandulela will be working on a new film titled “Umthwalo”.
“The film is about a Xhosa housewife who realises that she can't turn her back on her husband's indiscretion; his cheating and abuse. The film looks at how all of these aspects impact a woman’s psyche.
“I think I'm the first person from the Eastern Cape to be selected for the residency. I'm really excited to tell people about my province, and my culture; the good, the bad and the complicated, we all have that with all of our cultures.
“And I'm really hoping that I'll be able to make the province proud and come back and shoot the film there as well,” she said.
Sandulela is a young filmmaker with a background in law and economics. She holds an Honours degree in film from AFDA Film School in Cape Town.
Her short film “Nongqawuse” received a critical review and was selected as the South African entry for the Escolas section of the BRICS film festival 2019.
She is the winner of the second edition of The Pitch South Africa Short Film competition. Most recently, Asanda participated in the Queer Writers’ Incubator with mentors such as Jenna Bass, Gabe Gabriel and Kelly-Eve Koopman.
She has most recently joined Butterfly Films as a director.
Commenting on the programme, Cait Pansegrouw, co-founder and director of artistic operations at the Realness Institute, said: “Our programme provides the physical space and time with no pressure for African filmmakers to really dig deep into their craft to develop their story ideas.
“By working together yet focused on their own stories the filmmakers are able to nurture and support each other, giving authentic African voices to these ideas.”
“As a screenwriter, this is an incredible opportunity to have uninterrupted time to work on a story. This cohort is a new mix of film talent representing North, East, South and West Africa, which we believe will present some fascinating insights, as ideas and narratives are discussed and exchanged,” added Pansegrouw.
Other participants for the 2022 Realness African Screenwriters’ Residency, which takes place from August 3 to September 24 are Ahmad Mahmoud (Sudan), C.J Obasi (Nigeria), Lara Sousa (Mozambique) and Youssef Michraf (Morocco).
“We are really excited to host the participants for the first time at Locarno,” commented Head of Locarno Filmmakers’ Academy and Project Manager for BaseCamp, Stefano Knuchel.
“The voices and ideas from a diverse background of filmmakers, and specifically from Africa, provide opportunities for robust and meaningful exchange, for all involved,” Knuchel said.
Following their return from Switzerland, the scriptwriters then take up residence at Nirox and Farmhouse 58, in The Cradle of Humankind, for six weeks. Story consultants Ayanda Halimana and Mmabatho Kau and creative producer Cait Pansegrouw, will mentor the participants.