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5 Festivals for African Filmmakers to Look out For

5 Festivals for African Filmmakers to Look out For

5 Festivals for African Filmmakers to Look out For

Aside the critical acclaim their works gain, film festivals, home and abroad, provide African creators the space to showcase their works, network with filmmakers from around the world…

By Helena Olori

Film festivals have become the game-changer for African filmmakers, and the global recognition the industry enjoys is directly linked to the increased representation of African films and talents on international stages.

From the days of the trailblazing Touki Bouki by Senegalese veteran filmmaker, Djibril Diop Mambéty, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, to the most recent fanfare trailing Mami Wata by Nigerian CJ Obasi, the African film industry has gained increased recognition and respect in the global film community as more African films are being showcased and awarded at major film festivals around the world, validating the talent and creativity that abounds on the continent.

(Read also: Mami Wata Sets Milestone, Wins Special Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival)

Aside the critical acclaim their works gain, film festivals, home and abroad, provide African creators the space to showcase their works, network with filmmakers from around the world and share their unique stories. There’s no better platform to challenge the stereotypical and often negative African narratives portrayed in Western Media than the one film festivals present. By telling their own stories, African filmmakers can showcase the complexity, beauty, and rich diversity of the continent’s culture.

For local filmmakers, the exposure that comes with showcasing their art on international stages is an invaluable pathway to foreign collaborations, funding, and distribution, which are some of the major hurdles African filmmakers face. The festivals seasons are upon us again, here are five film festivals and opportunities African filmmakers, especially emerging and indie producers, should not miss.

Africa in Motion Film Festival

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Africa in Motion (AiM) is Scotland’s premier annual African film festival focused on showcasing the rich stories and talents of the African film industry. It offers its diverse audience a platform to immerse themselves in the African culture, and engage with filmmakers from Africa and the African Diaspora living in Scotland and its environs. More than 680 African films have been screened to an audience of over 45,000 people across Scotland since the inaugural festival in 2006, making it one of the leading African film platforms. Here is what’s in for filmmakers of African descent.

The annual Short Film Competition is part of the complementary events for the prestigious festival. For this year’s competition, its 13th edition, African filmmakers are invited to submit their short films of any theme or genre, but not longer than 30 minutes.

Entries for this competition are on-going, and interested persons can apply here. A shortlist of eligible films which will be judged by a high-profile jury of local and international industry experts, will be announced in September 2023.  The winner will be announced during the festival run, and would receive a substantial cash prize that could set them up for a flourishing career in the industry.

In addition to the jury’s choice, there will also be an Audience Choice Award, adding an interactive element to the festival, where both the jury-selected and audience-favourite films will be screened again prior to the closing film of the 18th AiM Film Festival slated to hold in November 2023.

(Read also: Uganda Communications Commission Launches Regional Short Film Competition)

The Piton International Film Festival

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A remarkable allure of film festivals is the unparalleled exposure it provides budding talents in the industry, and the Piton International Film Festival resonates with this. “PIFF Africa 2023” is a 12-month long initiative that spotlights “Films Shot in Africa Only.” What sets PIFF Africa apart is its emphasis on education, collaboration, and celebration, rather than competition.

PIFF Africa focuses on various aspects of the billion-dollar film industry, and organises workshops and seminars that provide insights into “in front of the camera and behind the camera” filmmaking. The platform also supports independent filmmakers with opportunities to showcase and monetise their creative artworks.

Awards and prizes at PIFF Africa are geared towards promoting education and collaboration among filmmakers. The benefits in it for successful participants include;

– Six months of social media exposure across all platforms

– Public discussions and intensive engagement with industry players.

– Opportunities to participate in panel discussions

– Exclusive interviews with UCCN TV, and more.

Submissions to be considered must be family-friendly, educational yet entertaining creative films that address topics such as intimacy, domestic violence, and pornography, aligning with the positive and celebratory spirit of PIFF Africa.

Submissions are open until April 30. Interested creatives can apply here.

African Diaspora Cinema Festival

IMG 20230411 WA0003 e1681220445769Submissions are underway for the 7th edition of the African Diaspora Cinema Festival slated for June 28 to July 1, 2023 at the Villa Romans in Florence, Italy. The festival is one of the biggest “Black Film” and arts festival that celebrates the power of film, and showcases the best works of African Diaspora filmmakers as part of its effort to change Africa, socially and economically.

African filmmakers can compete for the various categories, including Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best Feature Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Best Music Documentary, Best African Contemporary Dance, Best Cinematography, ADCF Jury Award, and Villa Romana Award.

Eligible submissions are expected be in English or subtitled in English, categorised into a Feature Film, Short Film, Short Documentary, Feature Documentary, Music Documentary, Human Rights, Environmental, or Student Film. All submissions must be in MP4 downloadable files, sent alongside a complete press kit.

Selected films will be announced one month prior to the festival. For more information and entry submission, click here.

(Read also: Mo Abudu and Idris Elba Partner To Empower African Storytellers in Film And TV)

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FAME Film Shorts Festival

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Another exciting opportunity in the cart for filmmakers is the latest addition to the 2023 FAME Week Africa, the FAME Film Shorts Festival. The film festival is set up solely to the discovery and advancement of the very best independent filmmakers from across Africa.

Scheduled to hold from 7 to 9 September 2023 at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town, South Africa, the FAME Film Shorts Festival will showcase Africa’s compelling innovative and creative approach to storytelling across seven categories namely; Best Narrative Short Film, Best Documentary Short Film, Best Animated Short Film, Best Experimental Short Film, Best Student Short Film, Best I&D Short Film, and Best Music Video.

Competing films will be judged by a panel of trailblazing jurors led by Fabian Martovell.The FAME Film Shorts Festival promises to be to a riveting networking platform for emerging and veteran filmmakers, connecting talents with production and distributions agents from across Africa.

Submissions are open till May 30, 2023. Filmmakers can apply here.

LEAP Africa’s CTIP Short Film Competition

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Last on is the list is LEAP Africa, -championed “Counter Trafficking in Persons” (CTIP) Short Film Competition aimed at leveraging the power of media for advocacy against the prevalent issue of human trafficking.

Open specifically to young Nigerians between the ages of 18 to 35, the competition aims to inspire and motivate people, break through deep-seated values and beliefs, and foster real conversations that can up turn cultural roots.

Participants can be individuals, groups, or organisations, and can submit up to two entries including a 15-minute short film and a 60-second trailer, produced in any Nigerian language, such as Pidgin English, Hausa, Igbo, or Yoruba, but must be subtitled in English. Entries must not include copyrighted images, videos, or music.

(Read also: Despite Strict International Laws, Challenges Abroad, Young Africans Are Still Crossing Borders)

All entries will be assessed based on criteria, such as video quality, audio sync, creativity, uniqueness, originality. The top three final films will premiere at an event attended by guests from the private, public, and development sectors. They will also be published on various social media platforms, heavily promoted to increase awareness and understanding of human trafficking in Nigeria.

The grand prize for the winner of the competition includes a cash prize of N1,000,000, a 6-month retainer contract to develop short films for other programmes within the organisation, LEAP Africa branded merchandise, and other consolation prizes. Interested filmmakers can apply here.


Helena Olori is a talented multimedia journalist, she enjoys staying abreast with latest happenings in the film industry and what makes the movie business tick. Connect with her on Instagram @heleena_olori or helena.olori@afrocritik

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