Tales as old as time from across the African continent, reimagined and retold by a new generation of six storytellers come together, the African Folktales, Reimagined short films in partnership with UNESCO, will launch on Netflix on 29 March 2023.
The anthology of six short films was launched as part of Netflix’s partnership with UNESCO to support the next generation of storytellers who were provided with resources including a $90 000 budget and creative guidance by established filmmakers as mentors to bring their stories to life. The emerging filmmakers were selected in 2021 following a call for submission that resulted in over 2000 applications from 13 countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region. The six emerging storytellers from Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritania, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will see their respective short films, make their debut on Netflix, globally.
The African Folktales, Reimagined short film collection features a variety of African on-screen talent in stories by emerging African storytellers such as Mohamed Echkouna from Mauritania with Enmity Djinn; Walt Mzengi Corey from Tanzania with Katope; Korede Azeez from Nigeria with Halima’s Choice; Voline Ogutu from Kenya with Anyango and the Ogre; Loukman Ali from Uganda with Katera of the Punishment Island and Gcobisa Yako from South Africa with MaMlambo.
Title Synopsis, Key Cast and Crew:
Halima’s Choice – by Korede Azeez – Nigeria: With 99% of the world population uploaded into virtual worlds, a young girl from a secluded Fulani village inadvertently elopes with an AI to escape an arranged marriage. Genre: Sci-fi, 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: With the backdrop of a childhood folktale, 13-year-old Otis struggles to protect his younger siblings from a monster that lives inside 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 grieving the loss of her baby exacts revenge on the powerful man who put her there. Genre: Thriller; Language: Runyankole and English; Director and Producer: Loukman Ali; Cast: Karababiito Tracy; Michael Wawuyo JR; Production company: Loukout Films.
Katope – by Walt Mzengi Corey – Tanzania: A young child with magical origins sets out on a journey to help end the drought that is devastating the community – even if it means risking their own life. Genre: Fantasy, Drama; Language: KiSwahili and ciGogo; Director: Walt Mzengi Corey; Producer: Petrus Van Staden; Rebecca Mzengi Corey Cast: Jene Mahenyela Mwalimu; Rahele Matete; Production company: Solela Art and Film.
Enmity Djinn – by Mohamed Echkouna – Mauritania: Three generations after he was last summoned, an ancient Enmity Djinn finds himself in an unfamiliar city confronted by a familiar foe. Genre: Fantasy, Drama; Language: Hassaniya Arabic and French; Director and Producer: Mohamed Echkouna; Cast: Zainabou Ahmed Mohamed; Mamadou Mokhtar N’diaye Gueye.
MaMlambo – by Gcobisa Yako – South Africa: The mystical river being, MaMlambo, watches over the sacred waters of discarded 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 under the guidance of Netflix-appointed supervising producer, Steven Markovitz from Big World Cinema and industry mentors: Bongiwe Selane (Gcobisa’s mentor); Jenna Bass (Korede’s mentor); Pape Boye (Loukman’s mentor); Femi Odugbemi (Mohamed’s mentor); Leila Afua Djansi (Voline’s mentor) and Tosh Gitonga (Walt’s mentor) who provided guidance and nurtured the filmmakers on their journey to bring their stories to life.
“UNESCO is proud to present the tales of Africa, reimagined by its emerging, homegrown talents. At the crossroads of tradition, innovation, heritage and creativity, African expressions in the twenty-first century are as diverse and dynamic as its people. The UNESCO-Netflix partnership represents our shared commitment to the audiovisual industries of Africa, which have the potential to generate US$20 billion in revenues annually. African creativity is a force for sustainable development, and we cannot wait for the audiences around the world to feel its unstoppable energy,” says Ernesto Ottone R., the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture.
“We are excited to finally bring this anthology of short films created by the next generation of African storytellers to Netflix members around the world. This initiative is a testament to our ongoing efforts to strengthen the pipeline of African storytelling and to include voices from underrepresented communities. We’re grateful to our partners at UNESCO who walked this journey with us to provide an opportunity for the six emerging African filmmakers to create and showcase their reimagined folktales to the world, in their own languages, so that more people can see their lives reflected on screen,” adds Tendeka Matatu, Netflix’s Director of Film in Africa.