Locarno Fest Open Doors Lab Announces Winners

Emotional prize ceremony underscores importance of support

LOCARNO -The Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors co-production lab dedicated to works from Sub-Saharan Africa has picked its winners out of 12 selected projects.

They are:

– “I Am Not a Witch” by Zambian director Rungano Nyoni. This coming-of-age film set in a refugeee camp in Zambia centers on a 9-year-old girl who must decide whether to give up her special powers to gain acceptance in her village. “Witch” won the Open Doors grant worth 20,000 Swiss francs ($22,000) and also the ARTE Open Doors Intl. Prize worth €6,000 ($8,000). “All of us in Africa know what we have to go through to get a film made,” said an emotional Nyoni with tears in her eyes. “I wish all the other directors here all the best.”

– “The Train of Salt and Sugar” by Brazilian-born director-journalist Licinio De Azevedo, whose “Virgin Margarita” went to Toronto in 2012. “Train” is set in the midst of civil war in Mozambique on a train that connects Nampula to Malawi that is the only hope for hundreds of people willing to risk their lives to guarantee the survival of their families. It took an Open Doors grant worth $22,000 and also a $9,000 CNC prize.

-“Faraway Friends” by U.S.-born director Teboho Edkins, about the lives of four teenagers in a small mountain village in Lesotho, took an Open Doors grant worth $11,000.

– “Territorial Pissings” by South African director Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, about the live-streamed suicide of a young affluent girl in Johannesberg, which received an Open Doors Special Mention.

The goal of the co-production lab is to help bring to fruition projects from emerging cinematographies in various stages.

This year Open Doors, headed by Ananda Scepka, focussed on English and Portuguese-speaking countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, completing the territories which it did not cover when it covered the French-speaking territories in the region in 2012.

The Open Doors Screenings program continues until the end of the Locarno fest, presenting a selection of 26 films from Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania.

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