Following on the heels of two successful editions, the Berlinale Africa Hub returns to its site beside the historic Martin-Gropius-Bau, offering a glimpse of trends emerging in the growing pan-African film market with a wide-ranging slate of presentations and panel discussions taking place from Feb. 8-13.

For industry insiders well-versed in the large, diverse and fragmented African film market, as well as Berlinale guests looking to do business on the continent, the hub has staked out a place within the larger framework of the European Film Market, according to EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol. “I feel in the third year, the Berlinale Africa Hub is something that people reckon with,” says Knol.

The Africa Hub is an initiative of the EFM, in cooperation 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.

Morning and afternoon presentations will spotlight emerging trends, challenges and opportunities facing African filmmakers. Among the highlights will be a focus on creating a framework for co-production and distribution between Africa and Europe, and a discussion on the future of the African film market, featuring representatives from the EFM and the continent’s leading content confabs. As part of the EFM’s wider effort to put diversity and inclusion at the forefront of this year’s agenda, the Africa Hub will open this year with a panel discussion featuring independent producers and pan-African organizations focused on creating more employment, co-production and collaboration opportunities for African women in film.

Along with a host of independent producers, the hub will welcome companies and institutions dedicated to growing the African film sector, including the Durban FilmMart, Canada’s Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group, the Discop content market, Cologne-based sales agent Rushlake Media and Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency of Cape Town and the Western Cape. A VR lounge featuring new African VR content will also be presented, in partnership with INVR.SPACE, an award-winning, full-service VR studio based in Berlin, and Digital Lab Africa, an initiative of the French Institute and the French Embassy in South Africa, will also have a presence there.

For its third edition, Knol expects the Africa Hub to continue to grow beyond its footprint in Gropius Park, presenting what he sees as “an organic transition into a more visible presence of the sub-Saharan African industry” at the EFM.

“The Africa Hub is evolving into something that in the future will integrate all the participants into the market venues,” says Knol. Plans are in place to move the hub to the Marriott Hotel for future editions, while Knol expects more and more African delegates to rent market stalls in the Martin-Gropius-Bau and have a greater presence at EFM events.

Such an evolution would go a long way toward closing some of the persistent gaps that continue to separate African filmmakers from the global market, while boosting their visibility within the framework of the EFM. Ultimately, says Knol, African filmmakers will help “to create a more diverse range of products being sold, and being screened in the market.”