Netflix/UNESCO African Folk Tale Short Films for Global Release

Folktales from the African continent by a new generation of six storytellers tagged African Folktales Reimagined short films in partnership with UNESCO launches on Netflix on March 29, 2023.

The anthology of six short films was released as part of Netflix’s partnership with UNESCO to support the next generation of storytellers, who have been given resources such as a $90,000 budget and creative guidance from established filmmakers as mentors to bring their bring stories to life. The up-and-coming filmmakers were selected in 2021 following a call for entries that resulted in over 2000 applications from 13 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. The six up and coming storytellers are Mohamed Echkouna from Mauritania with Enmity Djinn; Walt Mzengi Corey from Tanzania with Katope; Korede Azeez of Nigeria with Zabin Halima (Halima’s choice); Voline Ogutu from Kenya with Anyango and the Ogre; Loukman Ali from Uganda with Katera from Punishment Island and Gcobisa Yako from South Africa with MaMlambo.

The synopsis of shorts and cast is as follows:

Zabin Halima (Halima’s Choice) – by Korede Azeez – Nigeria With 99% of the world’s population uploaded to virtual worlds, a young girl from a remote Fulani village accidentally uses an AI to escape an arranged marriage. Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy; Language: Hausa; Director: Korede Azeez; Producer: Kenneth Gyang; Cast: Habiba Ummi Mohammed; Adam Garba produced by Cinema Kpatakpata.

Anyango and the Ogre – by Voline Ogutu – Kenya Set in a children’s fairy tale, 13-year-old Otis fights to protect his younger siblings from a monster that lives in their home. Genre: Fantasy, Drama; Language: KiSwahili and English; Director: Voline Ogutu; Producer: Sarah Hassan; Cast: Trevor Jones Kamau; Sarah Hassan produced by Alfajiri Productions.

Katera of the Punishment Island – by Loukman Ali – Uganda

Abandoned on an island, a woman mourning the loss of her baby seeks revenge on the powerful man who brought her there. Genre: Thriller; Language: Runyankole and English; Director & Producer: Loukman Ali; Cast: Karababiito Tracy; Michael Wawuyo JR; Production Company: Loukout Films.

Katope – by Walt Mzengi Corey – Tanzania

A young child of magical heritage embarks on a journey to end the drought that is ravaging the community–even if it means risking his own life. Genre: Fantasy, Drama; Language: KiSwahili and ciGogo; Director: Walt Mzengi Corey; Producer: Petrus Van Staden; Rebecca Mzengi Corey Cast: Jene Mahenyela Mwalimu; Rachel Matete; Production company: Solela Art and Film

Enmity Djinn – by Mohamed Echkouna – Mauritania

Three generations after its last summoning, an ancient enmity Djinn finds himself confronted by a known foe in an unfamiliar city. Genre: Fantasy/Drama; Language: Hassaniya Arabic and French; Director & Producer: Mohamed Echkouna; Cast: Zainabou Ahmed Mohamed; Mamadou Mokhtar N’diaye Gueye.

MaMlambo – by Gcobisa Yako – South Africa

The mystical river creature MaMlambo watches over the sacred waters of the decommissioned bodies. Genre: Drama; Language: isiXhosa; Director: Gcobisa Yako; Producer: Pakiso Albertus; Cast: Simphiwe Dana; Zikhona Bali

Each storyteller was partnered with a local production company and was led by Netflix-appointed Supervising Producer Steven Markovich of Big World Cinema and industry mentors: Bongiwe Selane (mentor to Gcobisa Yako); Jenna Bass (Mentor Korede Azeez); Pape Boye (Loukman Ali’s mentor); Femi Odugbemi (Mentor of Mohamed Echkouna); Leila Afua Djansi (voline Ogutu’s mentor) and Tosh Gitonga (Walter Mzengi’s mentor) who guided and supported the filmmakers on their journey to bring their stories to life.

“UNESCO is proud to showcase the stories of Africa reimagined by its emerging, indigenous talents. At the crossroads of tradition, innovation, heritage and creativity, 21st-century African expressions are as diverse and dynamic as its people. The UNESCO-Netflix partnership represents our shared commitment to Africa’s audiovisual industry, which has the potential to generate $20 billion in revenue annually. African creativity is a force for sustainable development and we can’t wait for audiences around the world to feel its unstoppable energy,” says Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Deputy Director-General for Culture.

“We’re excited to finally make this anthology of short films created by the next generation of African storytellers available to Netflix members around the world,” said Tendeka Matatu, Netflix’s Director of Film in Africa. “This initiative is a testament to our ongoing efforts to strengthen the African storytelling pipeline and include voices from underrepresented communities. We are grateful to our partners at UNESCO who have taken this journey with us to give the six emerging African filmmakers the opportunity to create their reimagined folk tales in their own language and present them to the world for more people to reflect on their lives can see on the screen.”


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