Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors Supports Sub-Saharan Africa Pics

The Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors co-production returns to supporting Sub-Saharan Africa this year, focussing on English and Portuguese-speaking countries and completing the territories in the region which it did not cover when it covered the French-speaking territories in the area in 2012.

The 12 selected projects, out of more than 190 submissions, come from Angola, South Africa, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia and Ghana. They will compete for the main $55,000 award and also vye for two smaller cash prizes sponsored by France’s CNC and ARTE.

The purpose of the mart is to help the projects connect with co-production partners, especially European producers.

The 2014 edition of Open Doors is the first to be managed by longtime Locarno collaborator Ananda Scepka, who succeeds Martina Malacrida. Scepka has been working with the festival since 2009.

The festival is once again working with African cinema specialist Alex Moussa Sawadogo, who is director of Berlin’s AfriKamera film festival, as consultant in the selection.

These are the selected projects:

• Aleluia di Zézé Gamboa (Angola)
• Faraway Friends di Teboho Edkins (SouthAfrica/Lesotho)
• Fig Tree di Alamork Marsha (Ethiopia/Israel)
• First Man di Jahmil X.T. Qubeka (SouthAfrica)
• Heart and Fire di Sol de Carvalho (Mozambique)
• Hot Comb di Caroline Kamya (Uganda/Netherlands)
• I Am Not a Witch di Rungano Nyoni (Zambia/France)
• Kula: A Memory in Three Acts di Inadelso Cossa (Mozambique
• Territorial Pissings di Sibs Shongwe-La Mer(SouthAfrica)
• The Mercy of the Jungle di Joel Karekezi (SouthAfrica/Rwanda/Belgium)
• The Train of Salt and Sugar di Licinio de Azevedo (Mozambique/Portugal)
• Unbalanced di P. Sam Kessie (Ghana)

This year’s edition also marks a partnership with the Torino Film Lab, which will mentor the writing aspect of several Open Doors projects and pick one to participate at its annual pitching event in Turin.

Furthermore, three producers of Open Doors projects will be picked to participate in the prestigious Producers Network at the Cannes Film Market.

Aside from pitching sessions, Open Doors will feature a fascinating case study on film distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa presented on Saturday between 10.30-12 at the Magistrale.

There will also be several screenings of non-participating completed films from the region to provide its cinematic context. On Sunday, May 10, there will be a special screening of “Difret,” the women’s rights drama that went to Berlin and Sundance by Ethiopian first-timer Zerezenay Berhane Meharin. A debate will follow.

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