SA director is force behind African film festival in Hollywood

Weaam Williams. Picture: Supplied

Weaam Williams. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 6, 2024

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Cape Town - A film festival showcasing African films in Hollywood is the result of a partnership between award-winning Cape Town-based film director Weaam Williams' Hollywood African Cinema Connection (Hacc), African Film DAO and film studio Hollywoodland DAO.

Hacc, an innovative initiative founded by Williams, and African Film DAO, have forged an unprecedented partnership with Hollywoodland DAO, marking a historic milestone in the global film industry.

In a statement, Hacc said it aimed to bridge continents, cultures and creative minds to foster collaboration and amplify the voices of African filmmakers on the global stage. The film festival takes place on January 11 and 12 at The Gary Marshall Theatre in Burbank, Los Angeles, and will showcase a unique slate of African films.

“The Hacc platform (haccfilm.carrd.co) serves as a dynamic hub, connecting Hollywood's top industry professionals with Africa's burgeoning talent pool.

“This project, spearheaded by Weaam Williams (African Film DAO & Holocene Films) in partnership with Joshua Frazin (Hollywoodland DAO), has already gained significant traction, attracting a diverse array of filmmakers, producers and industry experts passionate about championing African narratives and fostering cross-cultural collaboration.

“The festival is co-produced in collaboration with prolific LA-based screenwriter & producer, Evette Vargas, from the New Hollywood Movement.”

Hacc said it was committed to inclusivity and diversity, and providing a space for African film-makers to showcase their work, access invaluable resources and forge partnerships that transcended geographical boundaries.

“Hacc empowers under-recognised talent while facilitating meaningful connections with established figures in the global film community.”

The initiative will showcase four feature films, 10 shorts and two animated shorts. Williams, has included her own award-winning short, Two Hues, completed in January 2021.

The shorts selection also includes Mtingo by Kevin Raymond from Tanzania, a film financed in the blockchain space by Decentralized Pictures.

Poster from Mtingo, one of the African films at the festival

“Sitting on the other-side of a curatorial panel has certainly opened my eyes. I now have a deeper and more profound understanding of how important the first 30 seconds of one's film is. I also noticed the small percentage of work submitted by women directors, particularly feature films by women from historically disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Williams.

“I think that this festival has concretised what I always believed, which is that drastic intervention is required to prioritise the voices of women on the continent, and also African filmmakers in general.

“When I speak of African women filmmakers I speak in isolation of Arab Africa as there are many women film-makers in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, etc. who are reaching the global arena via funds and platforms which prioritise Arab film-makers. It is indeed a pleasure to watch their growth,” she said.

African Film DAO (africanfilmdao.xyz), a decentralised, autonomous organisation, is dedicated to revolutionising the African film industry through blockchain technology and innovative funding mechanisms.

Joshua Frazin of Hollywoodland DAO, said the collaboration represented a seismic shift in film financing and distribution, democratising access to resources and funding for African film-makers while ensuring fair and transparent revenue sharing.

Joshua Frazin of the Hollywoodland DAO

“Freed from industry constraints and governmental barriers, we explore new ways to collaborate and produce content. This moment signifies an industry evolution; established models dwindle as collective efforts, including AI, reshape creation and operations.

“At the Blockchain-AI-Entertainment convergence, the Hollywoodland DAO fuels my excitement, carving equitable routes for film-makers to connect, produce, and distribute content,” said Frazin.

Williams, the driving force behind Hacc, said: “Our collaboration with Hollywoodland DAO signifies a pivotal moment in the evolution of the global film landscape. By harnessing the power of technology and fostering meaningful partnerships, we are not only amplifying African voices but also reshaping the way stories are told, financed and shared worldwide."

The Hacc virtual festival runs from the January 19 to 26 on entertainmint.com, and audiences will be able to vote for their favourite film at decentralized.pictures. The DCP platform is an NPC run by Roman, Sofia and Gia Coppola.

For more information about the Hollywood African Cinema Connection and African Film DAO, visit haccfilm.carrd.co and africanfilmdao. xyz, respectively.

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