Netflix. African Folktales, Reimagined.

It is a series of six short films produced by Netflix made by young directors of the Continent. The project, supported by UNESCO, aims to enhance African cultural wealth.

The young African cinema grows and develops in a feminine way. Netflix has produced six short films shot by six young male and female directors from the continent, under the title African Folktales Reimagined.The chosen ones were selected from 2,000 participants in a competition organized on a continental scale by UNESCO to showcase the richness of African cultural heritage through the presentation of local stories told by a new generation of filmmakers.

The six winners of the Netflix-Unesco film competition. Photo: Netflix

The six short films of about 15-20 minutes each are surprising for their work with images, music and light and for the creation of the magical atmospheres within which the characters move.
The stories are told by new voices from sub-Saharan Africa, all inspired by the local culture and set in villages and cities or in nature, but in order to connect with the rest of the world.

Stories of women and more besides
The stories created by young directors – three out of six are women – often have female protagonists at the centre of the action, almost like a new gender awareness that is advancing.
The young Nigerian author Korede Azeez has decided to evoke a female story in Hausa: in her short film, Halima’s Choice, she touches on the fantastic by filming a girl from an isolated Fulani village, the victim of a forced marriage from which she flees by seeking for help from a stranger and the virtual world.

A scene from the Kenyan film Anyango and The Ogre. Photo: Netflix

The Kenyan Voline Ogutu, with Anyango and the Ogre  tells the story of three children and their mother, who, through transmigration in a popular fairy tale, try to escape from an abusive father.
The South African director Gcobisa Yako, on the other hand, with MaMlambo, takes us into the mystical world of river creatures, who watch over women in difficulty.
The work of Ugandan director Loukman Ali with Katera of the Punishment Islandal centres on a woman who is abandoned on an island for having conceived outside of marriage, but who will manage to take revenge on the powerful man who kidnapped her by transforming into a kind Wonder Woman.
She is an elderly woman grappling with a djinn – a supernatural entity in the pre-Islamic and Muslim religions – the protagonist of the short film by the Mauritanian director Mohamed Echkouna, in Enmity Djinn, reinvented the stories that she heard as a child from her grandmother and her uncles. Finally, a story with an environmental aspect, that of the Tanzanian director Walt Mzengi, with Katope whose protagonist is a little girl born on the arrival of a wave of drought who meets
a mysterious rainbird.

UNESCO, Africa as a priority.

Tendeka Matatu, Netflix’s Director of Film in Africa said: “We are excited to bring this anthology of short films created by the next generation of African storytellers to Netflix members around the world.
This initiative is a testament to our ongoing efforts to strengthen the pipeline of African storytelling and to include voices from underrepresented communities.”
Ernesto Ottone R., the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, pointed out:  “UNESCO is proud to present the tales of Africa, reimagined by its emerging, homegrown talents. At the crossroads of tradition, innovation, heritage and creativity, African expressions in the twenty-first century are as diverse and dynamic as its people. The UNESCO-Netflix partnership represents our shared commitment to the audiovisual industries of Africa, which have the potential to generate US$20 billion in revenues annually. African creativity is a force for sustainable development, and we cannot wait for the audiences around the world to feel its unstoppable energy.”

Adam Garba and Habiba Ummi Mohammed in Halima’s Choice. Photo: Netflix

Each winner received a $25,000 prize and a grant to produce the short film. The works were officially put online on March 29 on the Netflix paid platform, on the occasion of the sixth edition of the Kalasha International Film & TV Festival in Kenya. UNESCO, wants to make Africa one of its priorities, with particular attention to cinema.
Among other things, UNESCO itself has published on its website the first report dedicated to the trends and possibilities of this industry, stating that it would have the potential to create 20 million jobs and generate 20 billion dollars in revenue for the continent. Not bad, and these short films seem to go in the desired direction, presenting themselves as the cultural expression of 21st– century Africa, as diverse and dynamic as its population. (Photo: Netflix)

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