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Locarno: Rushlake Media Takes Heidi Specogna’s ‘Cahier Africain’

Acquisition unveiled on cusp of ‘Cahier Africain's’ world premiere at Locarno

Cahier Africain, Locarno 2016
©PS Film GmbH : Filmpunk GmbH Photo: Heidi Specogna

LOCARNO — In select but ongoing trading and deal announcements at this year’s Locarno Festival, Philipp Hoffmann’s Cologne-based Rushlake Media, has acquired all world sales rights outside German-speaking territories to “Cahier Africain,” the latest documentary by distinguished Swiss-German documentary director Heidi Specogna.

A digitally-orientated and sales outfit founded in 2014 by Hoffmann, a former marketing director at The Match Factory, Rushlake Media will world premiere “Cahier Africain” in Locarno’s Critics’ Week on Aug. 7.

Deal comes as Rushlake Media, which licenses content for VOD markets via major digital platforms, continues to develop its international sales arm with a strong focus on African films and the African market. In a statistic cited by Participant Media David Linde at Locarno, it is estimated that, as markets in Africa and Asia mature, 5 billion people will come online for the first time in the next 5 years.

A Swiss-German co-production between Peter Spoerri’s Zurich-based PS Film, and Cologne’s Filmpunkt, launched by Stefan Tolz and Thomas Riedelsheimer, “Cahier Africain” begins with the discovery of a small school exercise book, containing the testimonies of 300 Central African women, girls and men. The notebook’s pages reveal how they suffered at the hands of Congolese mercenaries between October 2002 and March 2003. Shot from 2008, accompanying victims of the violence, such as Amzine who gave birth to a daughter after being raped, and Fane, who was shot in the knee, eventually underwent successful surgery in Berlin. As prosecution of the war crimes continues in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the women attempt to go about their dailies lives. Then another civil war breaks out in the Central African Republic.

The fate of the women and their children begotten by force is a tragedy the world turns a blind eye to,” said director Specogna. noting tat it is estimated that, in the Central African region in recent years alone, more than 100,000 women have been violated during armed conflict.

A lecturer in documentary filmmaking at Film Academy Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany, Specogna has pursued a long and illustrious career as a documentary filmmaker, winning multiple prizes, such as for “Tupamaros,” a Coral Award winner at 1996’s Havana New Latin American Film Festival, and 2006’s “The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez,” which took a Swiss Film Award in 2006.

“Cahier Africain” is “a heartbreakingly insightful story that reminds us that many human rights abuses in Africa are often overlooked or quickly forgotten by the news cycle,” said Hoffmann.

He added: “As we continue to focus on Africa related content and the African market, we’re also increasing our world sales activity and excited to support an established voice in documentary film like Heidi Specogna.”