The First International Short Film Festival in Addis Abeba will take flight tomorrow, June 14, 2010, featuring the frills of the red carpet; famous guests, including supermodel Liya Kebede; 100 films from festivals around the world; and a competition among 25 East African filmmakers, with first prize fetching a flight to France for film training.
The free festival will be held at National Theatre every day of the week. With the title of “Images That Matter,” the festival seeks to “encourage the use of film as a personal, social, and economic tool” and to facilitate an exchange between African filmmakers and the international community.
President Girma Woldegiorgis will open the festival with a red carpet ceremony at the National Theatre on Monday where guests are expected to dress their best for the free event. A sampling of short films will follow from countries around the world including Ethiopia, Germany, New Zealand, the United States, and France.
Films about UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will kick off the morning session on Tuesday with additional films from the official sister festival, Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France following. Eight of the 25 competing films from East Africa will commence competition, culminating with an invitational African premiere of Desert Flower starring Liya Kebede.
The next day will feature films from the second sister festival, the International Short Film Festival of São Paulo, Brazil. The associated Melbourne International Film Festival and African Festival of Tarifa, Spain will follow, with four competitive East African films later on. The day will end with Cannes short films and “Travel in Short, Carte Blanche Cultures France” films.
“Desert Flower” will again premiere, this time with unrestricted admittance but with priority given to students, on Thursday morning, followed by three short films from each continent from the Democracy Video Challenge. The rest of the day will be devoted to East African films, including four that are part of the local festival competition, followed by more films from the Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival.
Friday will have repeats of previous showings plus three more films from East Africa that are part of the competition. The last day, Saturday, June 19, 2010, will feature the last four East African films of the competition followed by the closing ceremony where the winning East African films will be shown again and prizes will be awarded.
First prize will be 10 days of film training in France during the Off-Courts Trouville Film Festival in September 2010, including airfare donated by Ethiopian Airlines. Second prize will be three weeks of training at Blue Nile Film School in Addis Abeba. An “Audience Award” will be given to a foreign filmmaker to be invited to Ethiopia to meet local filmmakers. The international films were selected to raise consciousness, and address social questions and environmental issues.
The week will also be packed with nine question and answer sessions with local and international directors at the National Theatre, nine workshops with foreign and local experts, and three panel discussions at Addis Abeba University (AAU) at 3:00pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Images That Matter International Short Film Festival, Addis Abeba is directed by Maji-da Abdi in association with Zelalem Woldemariam initiated by Culturesfrance. Maji-da was the director of “The Rivers That Divided” (2001) and worked on the production of “Heremakono” (2002), “En Attendant le Bonheur” (2003), and “Bamako” (2006). Zelalem wrote and directed “The 11th Hour” (2008) and “Lezare” (2009), a short film that won the Young Jury Award at the African Festival of Tarifa in 2010, and owns Zeleman Production.
Having an international film festival in Addis Abeba should increase opportunities for local filmmakers to find funding for their films, said a local cinematographer, who did not want his name printed due to his contract with the organisers of this festival. He has a script for a short film about a boy who lives with his bedridden grandmother and sells gum to keep both of them alive.
“The film should cost about 4,500 dollars to shoot,” he said. “I had a pledge for a contribution of about 1,000 dollars, but I do not know when or if that [support] will come, now.”
There is lots of talent in East African filmmaking, but most films are feature length and cannot compete due to a lack of training and funding, Maji-da said.
¬She wants to encourage short films, which she believes could compete more easily on the international stage where there are hundreds of films from each of the other continents. Eventually, East Africa and Ethiopia, in particular, will be able to compete with Nigeria’s thriving film industry and the rest of the world.
“We hope that the festival will spark a lot of discussion in the local film industry,” said Zelalam.
A full catalogue of events is currently available at www.imagesthatmatter.org (not .com) for download and on hard copy at the National Theatre by Tuesday.
By Hans Larson addisfortune.com