African writers to pitch stories in France at key TV market, the Series Mania Forum

African writers from the AuthenticA Series Lab are currently in Lille, France to pitch their unique stories at the Series Mania Forum.

African writers from the AuthenticA Series Lab are currently in Lille, France to pitch their unique stories at the Series Mania Forum.

Published Mar 24, 2024

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A cohort of African writers from the AuthenticA Series Lab are currently in Lille, France to pitch their stories at the Series Mania Forum, a major TV series market that attracts influential buyers, investors, funders, broadcasters and producers from around the globe.

The AutheticA Series Lab, now in its third year, is a programme that supports the professional development of creators of serial content. Designed in collaboration and presented in partnership with the StoryBoard Collective, with support of Series Mania Forum, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the French Institute of South Africa.

The relationship between Realness and Series Mania has sparked a robust interest in authentic African content that can speak to global audiences.

This year’s writers include Kelly-Eve Koopman, representing South Africa with an urban fantasy, Facing the Mountain; Moreetsi Gabang from Botswana, with a crime drama, Outreach; Tiah Beye, representing Senegal/Ivory Coast with a comedy-drama, Brouteure (The Yahoo Girl); and Wanjiru Kairu (Kenya), with a political satire, Serikali Saidia!

Weekend Argus caught up with South African recipient Kelly-Eve Koopman on her experience of the programme.

Koopman, who is doing her masters in creative writing through UWC, is from Glenhaven. She shares what inspires her story, Facing the Mountain.

“It was inspired by the Cissie Gool community and my experience living in Woodstock, as well as supporting the land and housing struggle. I’ve always been interested in urban fantasy and telling stories relevant and uplifting to South African youth.

“To me it’s the Cissie Gool community and the generation of bold kids living in Mountain Road that just light up the neighbourhood and it felt pretty magical and therefore it’s the inspiration behind ‘city magic’ and kids being guardians of the city.

“Also I think gentrification and spatial apartheid extraction – green gas extraction at the moment and developers that make cities like Cape Town unbelievable for it’s people.

“They are the formidable enemies of our time; these structural threats were inspiration for the bad guys in the story. I feel we need to harness all our people’s power to take them on.

“So I want to represent that struggle through fantasy and with this show I also want to create something hopeful, something adventurous that captures our city’s magic, mythology, history of resistance and the bold and joyful spirit of our kids.

“I’ve always loved writing. As a kid, I used to fill up books with bad, overly emotive poetry. I explore different mediums. For me, I think the story guides the medium and I currently work in the literature and film/TV arena.”

Koopman also said that her love for film and storytelling stems from her previous work in theatre.

“I studied theatre. I still love the theatre; I worked as an actor and realised that what I love most is co-creation and just good stories, I guess. So I wanted to write the roles I would have liked to play (and) stories I’d like to see.”

She ends with an inspiring line: “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”

Director of Development and Partnerships at the Realness Institute, Mehret Mandefro, said: “At the 2023 Series Mania, all four of the AuthenticA Series Lab writers’ stories were taken up by either broadcasters or leading production companies. We hope for the same result this year after an intense six months of mentorship and development through the Lab.”

Director of Series Mania Forum, Francesco Capurro, said: "I'm delighted to welcome Authentica Series Lab participants to Creative Bazaar and Series Mania Forum for the second year running.

“Our collaboration with the Realness has proved invaluable in amplifying African voices on the international stage. This year marks an important milestone as Africa's representation at the Forum reaches unprecedented levels, with a delegation attending for the first time under the Creation Africa Pavilion. We look forward to facilitating connections between African talent and international professionals at the Forum."

Weekend Argus

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