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Last month at the opening of the Africa Hub at the European Film Market of the Berlinale, the Ladima Foundation announced a new initiative for 2019 – the formation of a network of women-focused and managed film and cultural festivals from across Africa.
This network – Women’s Film Festival Network – already includes the Udada International Film Festival in Nairobi Kenya, the Urusaro International Women’s Festival from Rwanda, and the Celebrating Womanhood Festival and Conference in Uganda, and most recently the EcranBenin Festival from Benin.
The aims of this initiative are multi-fold, by being part of a larger whole, that will stretch across countries and borders, each festival is better equipped to customise their programming, leverage potential funders, sponsors, and partners as well as provide women filmmakers with viable platforms to promote and exhibit their films. This global-thinking network will also strengthen the local impact that each festival will have within its own regional industry.
As members of the network, the festival directors and management teams will receive training through intensive residency workshops in two areas that have been identified as strategically essential; those being curatorship and programming and the business of running a film festival.
Additionally, the Ladima Foundation team and its partners will provide on-going mentorship and support for these festivals in these areas along with publicity and marketing as well as, outreach to potential partners and funders.
The first of these training sessions and workshops took place on 5 March in Kampala Uganda at the Celebrating Womanhood Festival, part of the Native Voices International event. Edima Otuokon, co-founder of the Ladima Foundation ran a workshop for female filmmakers invited to the festival on the power of film to empower and uplift women across Africa.
The workshop showcased the significant role film and media plays in changing the individual, informal, formal and institutional structures in societies that impede the socio-economic development of women in Africa. Further showcasing how female filmmakers can utilise the power of film to affect social, cultural and economic change in their communities, country and continent.
Otuokon’s workshop formed part of a five-day programme that included film screenings, panel discussions and interactive workshops, all focused on issues relevant to women and with an outcome and solution driven approach.
The festival screened a range of films from, or focused on, African women including Sisters-in-Law from Cameroon, directed by Florence Ayisi, and Kim Longinotto, Jordan Riber’s Fatuma, the Ugandan short, Hibo and Hoden by Nikissi Serumaga, as well as the winner of the Ladima Foundation’s 2018 Adiaha Award for Best Documentary by an African Woman, New Moon directed by Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann. These and all other film screenings were followed by interactive discussions.
While in attendance at the event Otuokon worked with the festival directors and management team to strengthen their skills in terms of marketing, curation, and business management.
Lennie Kleinen, programme manager, Native Voices International, has this to say on being part of the network, “Native Voices International is excited to be part of the Ladima Woman’s Festival Network family, an initiative long overdue. We are optimistic about the opportunities that working with Ladima presents to our female filmmakers by providing them with platforms to promote and exhibit their works. Like any other festival particularly those in the south, Native Voices is struggling with funding challenges, sustainability and visibility. The training, publicity and marketing support among other opportunities that the Ladima Foundation provides offers growth potential, not only for Native Voices as an organisation but also for our members and filmmakers in the region.”