San Francisco, CA — WeOwnTV welcomes seven new fellows to their 18 month Filmmaker Fellowship program. The fellowship is a film fund and professional development program supporting the production of independent documentaries directed by West African filmmakers. The program provides filmmakers with funding for their project, filmmaking (creative labs) labs, one-on-one mentoring, professional development workshops and networking opportunities.
“We are thrilled to announce that this year’s WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship class expanded to include seven fellows from three different countries; Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.” said Banker White, Executive Director of WeOwnTV.
The fellowship, running since 2016, is the first of its kind in the region, and through this program WeOwnTV hopes to play a part in supporting a healthy media sector. The goal of the fellowship is to help amplify and support independent voices within the West African indigenous media sector. “In addition to supporting to selected filmmakers we are planning a series of, documentary screenings and discussions that will be open to the public. We see this as a key part of a healthy free press, sense of trust, and cooperation between our communities and the establishment.” adds Arthur Pratt(Fellowship mentor and founder of The Freetown Media Center). Films that have been scheduled to screen in 2018/2019 have been contributed by Bertha Foundation Festival in a Box and POV.
This year the fellowship is also adding three new components to the program; IDFAcademy partnership, the Fatima Fofana memorial award and a professional development fellowship. WeOwnTV is partnering with the Bertha Foundation and IDFAcademy to add an international travel component to the fellowship. Four fellows together and the mentors have been invited to attend as an official West African Delegation to the 2018 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in November. The team will attend the 4 day IDFAcademy program and then stay to continue meetings and experience the festival.“The experience provided by IDFAcademy is an incredible opportunity for our fellows. The balance of training with networking opportunities is also perfectly timed. All of the fellows will all be mid production on their projects.” said Arthur Pratt, fellowship mentor and founder of the Freetown Media Center.
WeOwnTV and the Freetown Media Center recently lost a dear member of our community. Fatima Fofana died tragically in childbirth in Spring 2018. Fatima has been an active member of WeOwnTV the collective since it’s founding in 2009. We have established an award that will be given to an exceptional female applicant to the fellowship. This year Orehmide Temple, Director of Teenage Dropouts will be the recipient of the inaugural Fatima Fofana Memorial Award. You can read more about her project bellow.
The WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship is made possible by funding and support from the Bertha Foundation and the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation. We also want to thank our 2018/2019 partners the International Documentary Association (IDA), IDFA and the IDFAcademy program.
2018/2019 Selection Committee
Banker White Executive Director, WeOwnTV
Rebecca Lichtenfeld Director of Social Impact The Bertha Foundation
Kamal Sinclair Director, New Frontier Lab Programs at Sundance Institute
Chid Liberty CEO and Co-founder, Liberty & Justice
Emma Christopher Filmmaker, Senior Research Fellow, Monash University
Additional Project Advisors Include
Simon Kilmurry Executive Director, IDA
David Sengeh Scientist at IBM Research Africa, Senior TED Fellow 2018
Wendy Levy Executive Director, The Alliance; Sr. Consultant Sundance Docs
Arthur Pratt Founder, The Freetown Media Center
The 2018 WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellows are:
Dir. Ibrahim ‘Miles B’ Kamara | Sierra Leone
Application synopsis excerpt: African Scientist tells the story of Sahr Bobson, a 28 years old man who lives with his two children and wife in a small village in Sierra Leone. This is a village with no electricity or access to modern technology and where very few children go to school. For as long as he can remember Sahr knew that he was not like the other children in the village. While the other children played football Sahr spent his days alone absorbed in his own imagination and creativity. He would design and create incredible new inventions and even invented his own language.
Many around him considered Sahr to be crazy and he was driven out of school for using his own language. He was never able to finish his formal education. Now Sahr is creating amazing inventions using household materials like jerry cans, scrap metals, plastics and recycle materials.
I hope that this film will help to change the mindset of Sierra Leoneans about accepting other people’s ideas and ways of thinking even if they don’t conform to the normal. Many people in Sierra Leone are outcast from society just because they don’t act and think the same way as the majority. This film will show that everybody has something to offer to the community and greater country.
All Don Bos
Director. Mohamed Janneh | Sierra Leone
Application synopsis excerpt: All Don Bos is a story that focuses on three Sierra Leoneans who are habitual users of Tramadol, a severe pain killer. The story captures the lives of these characters as they struggle to earn their livelihood under hard conditions — hence employ the use of tramadol to enhance their capability with or without the knowledge of the adverse effects of the drug that might lead to fatality.
The film will highlights various walks of life that are affected by use of the drug. The film features a Kadihja, a single mother living as a prostitute, Abubakkar, a motorbike taxi driver and Alpha, a young man who lives on the streets. My goal with All Don Bos will be to raise public awareness of the massive abuse of drugs, the unchecked access to drugs that should only be obtained by prescription and of course it’s negative side effects. I hope this film will bring concern to all authorities and affect drug policy and proper drug prescription protocols for its use.
Breaking the Silence
Dir. Emmanuel Lavalie | Sierra Leone
Application synopsis excerpt: Sierra Leone has one the largest mineral deposits in Africa. Unfortunately, the wealth earned from these minerals is not distributed to the communities where the mining takes place. Moreover, the livelihoods of these communities are threatened as most of them are forcefully displaced to locations where they lack good drinking water, quality and adequate food, schools etc. Some of the communities which have protested against relocation are met with unthinkable actions from the central government using the Sierra Leone police to move them against their will.
Mohamed Conteh, Sarah Kamara and Munda James are victims of this violent relocation by the Sierra Leone Police. They are willing to share their stories with rest of the world.
The production of this film will give a voice to suppressed communities that are the victims of the negligence of the mining companies and the government. It will raise awareness and put pressure on government to amend some crude mining policies that are not beneficial to the affected communities.
Inside West Point
Dir. Archie ‘Valentino’ Thomas | Liberia
Application synopsis excerpt: West Point is the biggest slum in Monrovia, and one of the most photographed places in the country. During the 2015 Ebola crisis, the press zoomed in on West Point as a center of the devastation; but as the epidemic subsided, so did international media attention, leaving untold the story of West Point beyond Ebola.
This impoverished township is complex: ridden with poverty, it also an economic and cultural hub that suffers every day from environmental degradation, and a lack of political will to improve the everyday lives of its people.This film will examine the key role of West Point in Liberia’s economy as a fishing and domestic workforce hub, and what the future holds for its residents if nothing is done to protect them from environmental degradation and neglect.
Return to Rebuild
Dir. Fatimah Dadzie | Ghana
Application synopsis excerpt: The story focuses on Fati Abubakar and Amina Alhassan who were once illegal immigrants in Europe. They are now back in their hometowns Sekond and Ashaiman respectively, trying to put their lives back together. Fati and Amina’s story is interwoven with the stories of two other young men who also trekked through the Sahara on their way to Europe.
The film will inspire debate on how society contributes to the illegal migration of young Africans to Europe. Through Fati’s and Amina’s story story, this film will present in a encapsulated form, the ramifications of illegal immigration to males, females and the society as a whole. It is hoped that this film will inspire the need for collective responsibility to end illegal migration.
Dir. Orehmide Temple* | Sierra Leone
*recipient of the Fatima Fofana Memorial Award
Director Orehmide Temple pictured with subject.
Application synopsis excerpt: Teenage pregnancy and early motherhood is on the increase in Sierra Leone, especially in the provinces, as it constitutes a social, community and nationwide problem.
Teenage Dropouts, centers on the characters of three teenage girls whose untimely pregnancies lead to their expulsion from school, much to the anger and disappointment of their parents. These girls, saddled with the burden of child responsibilities, long to return to school but could not raise the funds to support their education.
These girls strive for their livelihood on the farmlands and in the forest in conditions that are hazardous to their health. The plights of these girls mirror the lives of hundreds of their peers who are trapped in similar conditions in various communities in the Portloko District.
We Are The Problem
Dir. Lawrence Agbetsise | Ghana
Application synopsis excerpt: We Are The Problem is a plot driven, protagonist centered documentary combining strong storytelling with stunning imagery from the intimate perspective of Sam a 32-year-old man who wears suit and tie to sell roasted plantain in the streets of Accra. The film follows his dream to change the narrative and how he leaves home dressed up in a suit and tie leaving this family (children) clueless about his work.
The story has a clear dramatic arc and with an artistic and poetic nature which will raise questions such as; will Sam open up to his children about his work? Must African parents continually push their children to take up study courses that they have no interest in? Can a young generation of African start-up entrepreneurs achieve what years of western foreign aid failed to achieve in Africa?
Ultimately we want to tell an inspirational and powerful African story of being open to ourselves and the society. It is also to start a revolution of start-up business within the youth of Ghana and Africa that will change the face of the continent. This story will project the character as a pillar of hope to a new generation in a new Africa.
Professional Development Fellows
This year WeOwnTV invited two filmmakers from our inaugural 2016/2017 class to a special professional development fellowship to complete and distribute their films.
Life After the Army
Dir. John Solo | Sierra Leone
Life After the Army focuses on the daily activities and stories of ex-servicemen who left the army through the Voluntary Retirement Program. The stories they tell echo the sentiment of thousands of their comrades who are scattered across Sierra Leone having gone through the same retirement program.
Dir Tyson Conteh | Sierra Leone
An’Bondo Beykey, which means “Stop Female Genital Mutilation,” takes a very personal look at a heated social issue in Sierra Leone. Fatmata, a close friend of the filmmaker and a member of his media collective, the Future View Film Group, died after going through an initiation ceremony. The Bondo society is a popular all-female society in West Africa. Though efforts have been made to modernize the ritual and stop Female Genital Mutilation, many societies still require this practice for initiation into the group and to adulthood.