×

Discop Africa: Guest Country Germany Talks African Ties

Berlinale, businesses leaders look to strengthen co-operation with continent

For visitors looking to escape the cold at this year’s European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin, the first Berlinale Africa Hub offered a chance to warm up with the hottest trends transforming filmmaking south of the Sahara.

Attached to the historic Martin-Gropius-Bau, the hub offered a platform for African innovation, showcasing advances in virtual reality and 360° storytelling on the continent, new distribution and marketing models, and the growing number of mobile platforms looking to cash in on Africa’s smart phone boom.

It also underscored an ongoing commitment to African creative industries by Germany, guest country at the Discop market in Johannesburg this week. Buoyed by the support of cultural institutions and the federal government, Germany has long been one of the world’s strongest partners for African filmmakers.

The Africa Hub was a collaborative effort on the part of the EFM, in co-operation with the World Cinema Fund, Berlinale Talents (and its sister program, Talents Durban), and the Berlinale Co-Production Market, with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office.

Its launch came in the wake of the introduction by the World Cinema Fund last year of a new program, WCF Africa, to promote films from sub-Saharan Africa, and on the 10th anniversary of Talents Durban, which was established with the support of Berlinale Talents to foster emerging African filmmakers.

The moves signal wide-ranging efforts to bolster a region that “has been underrepresented in the past,” according to EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol, who says turnout at the first Africa Hub was “beyond our expectations.”

For the second edition next year, Knol is looking to expand the hub’s footprint to offer more meeting rooms and pop-up office spaces, where African entrepreneurs can network and make deals with their European counterparts. The emphasis is on innovators and digital disruptors looking to upend traditional business models. “We’re looking for different kinds of entrepreneurs,” says Knol.

More than just a spotlight for African filmmakers who often struggle to get a foothold in Europe, Knol stresses that the hub is a “business-oriented platform” where deals can get done. “Charity is not what we as the EFM are planning to do,” he says.

The same mentality is on display at Discop this week, where four South African projects will be presented to potential co-producers. Patrick Zuchowicki, general manager of event organizer Basic Lead, says the goal was to “do as much as we could as a trade show to bring to the market TV series that could be put into production quickly,” particularly for projects that could benefit from South Africa’s co-production treaty with Germany.

Among those in attendance this week are Herbert Behrendt, head of the cultural department for the German Embassy in Pretoria; Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, head of cultural programs in sub-Saharan Africa for the Goethe Institut South Africa; Claus Stäcker, Deutsche Welle’s head of programs for Africa; Jana Wolff, marketing and advertising director for the EFM and the Berlinale Africa Hub; Philipp Hoffmann, founder and managing director of Cologne-based sales agent Rushlake Media; and Sarika Lakhani, founder and managing partner of Tom Tykwer’s Kenyan shingle One Fine Day Films.

For Hoffmann, whose company specializes in licensing for VOD markets and has a strong focus on African content, the continent is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the emerging landscape, where a growing number of mobile platforms are disrupting old business models and erasing borders.

“Traditional infrastructure [in Africa] is difficult, but when it comes to mobile and digital technologies, it’s a completely different thing,” he says, pointing to the existence of 4G networks even in places that are off the grid. “We just don’t have the same structures as in developed Western markets. We have to think about new ways of getting films to audiences.”

Rushlake’s success in the VOD space, which includes world sales rights for the One Fine Day slate of films, emboldened it this month to board “Sew the Winter to My Skin,” by acclaimed South African helmer Jahmil X.T. Qubeka.

The South African-German co-production, which begins principal photography next month, is the latest example of how German bizzers are invested in African collaborations. Says Hoffmann, “having a great script with a German co-producer onboard made it a perfect fit.”

More TV

  • David Spade Fights For Late-Night Viewers

    As Late-Night Hosts Battle Trump, David Spade Fights For Viewers With 'Trump Fatigue'

    David Spade at the helm of a new late-night show? Viewers probably think they know what to expect. Yet Spade’s new program on Comedy Central will also be notable for what it doesn’t have to offer. Yes, this is the guy who served “Hollywood Minute” zingers on “Saturday Night Live,” made millions laugh with movies [...]

  • 'Big Little Lies' Season 2 Finale

    'Big Little Lies' Season 2 Finale Draws Series-High Viewership

    The season 2 finale of “Big Little Lies,” headlined by a tense courtroom scene, was watched by just under 2 million total viewers during its initial broadcast. The 1.98 million figure is the highest initial viewership for the series to date. By comparison, the show’s first season concluded with 1.9 million total viewers in linear [...]

  • Emmy Voters Guide 2019

    Emmys: Breaking Down Odds to Win in Major Races on the 2019 Ballot

    A slew of newcomers prove stiff competition in major categories, but recognizable names will likely still prevail at the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Here, Variety analyzes the nominees in 14 of this year’s toughest races. Drama Series After a year in which some heavy hitters opted to premiere just outside the Emmy eligibility season, [...]

  • Daniel Sandu Cristian Mungiu

    HBO Europe Greenlights Crime Caper 'Tuff Money' From Cristian Mungiu’s Mobra Films

    HBO Europe has greenlit original series “Tuff Money” (“Bani Negri”), a six-part crime caper from Cristian Mungiu’s Mobra Films, the company behind Mungiu’s Palme d’Or winner “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” and HBO Europe’s “Hackerville.” “Tuff Money” has been written and will be directed by Daniel Sandu, the writer and director of the [...]

  • INVISIBLE HEROES

    Sanfic Adds Drama Series Strand as Chilean TV Builds (EXCLUSIVE)

    Adding to the momentum of Chile’s energetic push into upscale TV production, the Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) is adding a TV strand, Sanfic Series. Focusing on drama series and part of the Sanfic Industry forum – after Ventana Sur now one of the biggest of any festival in South America – the section will [...]

  • AMC’s Streamer Acorn TV Hires Kerensa

    AMC-Owned Streamer Acorn TV Hires Former Filmstruck Exec as International Boss

    Former Filmstruck International general manager Kerensa Samanidis has been appointed Acorn TV’s first international chief. As general manager, international, she will spearhead the growth of the AMC Networks-owned streamer outside of North America and Latin America. Last year, Acorn TV expanded into Australia, and New Zealand, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, and Scandinavia. In the newly-created international [...]

  • miptv-conference-room

    MipTV Organizers Unveil Transformation Plan for 2020

    MipTV is moving inside the Palais des Festivals in Cannes as market organizers attempt to ensure that the April vent remains relevant in the face of falling attendance, increased competition and wider industry changes. Reed Midem organizes MipTV and its better-attended sibling, Mipcom, in October. After this year’s MipTV, it reached out to distributors, many [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content