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2015 FilmMart Award Winner Nathan Magoola Attends International Markets

15 Apr 2016

2015 FilmMart Award Winner Nathan Magoola Attends International Markets

Ugandan film producer, Nathan Magoola, one of the winners at last year’s Durban FilmMart, will soon be heading off to Europe again in order to attend Ace Mundus, a 7-day workshop that takes place for three days in Paris, followed by four days in Bergen, Norway.

After winning the prestigious CineMart Award at DFM 2015 (sponsored by the co-production market of the International Film Festival Rotterdam) for the fiction project Sunflowers Behind a Dirty Fence, Magoola was subsequently selected for the Ontaria Media Development Corporation's International Financing Forum, which took place at the Toronto International Film Festival last September.
In Toronto, he met Ronan Girre, the CEO of Ace Mundus, who encouraged him to apply for the programme. As a result, Sunflowers was selected for this year’s event, making it the first time that a producer or project from Africa will be present at Ace Mundus.

Talking about his imminent trip, Magoola says, “I am really excited about the prospects Ace offers me, especially if you consider that its members are some of the most experienced producers from around the world. For instance, the Colombian film Embrace of the Serpent, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar this year, is a project that was developed at Ace. Similarly, the Hungarian film Son of Saul, which won the Best Foreign Language Oscar, Room, which was nominated for best film, best actress, best screenplay, and best director, and Ave Maria, which won Best Short Film, are all films from ACE producers. I feel like I am in very good company.” After the workshop, Magoola will be assigned various consultants, including script doctors and financial experts, to work with him on the development of Sunflowers – all of which will put the project in very good standing for potential investors.

Magoola has intimate links to Durban, having been a participant in the 2013 Durban Talents programme, an industry development element of the Durban International Film Festival that is supported by the Berlin International Film Festival. Talking about Durban FilmMart and the Talents programme, Magoola says that these two events, “go a long way towards helping African professionals network with other African professionals and the international film industry.” He also says that the encounters he has with professionals from the international film community in Durban are more meaningful than elsewhere and have a better chance of turning into something fruitful. “If you meet a fund representative from Europe in Durban, it’s because they were sufficiently interested in meeting African film professionals that they spent the time and money on making the trip to Durban. Whereas, if you meet them in Berlin or Cannes, they usually just agree to meet with you as a courtesy”.

In terms of growing the African film industry, Magoola says that “International collaboration is very important because it raises the visibility of African films. Unlike South Africa, where there are many skilled people, in the rest of the continent we have to look outside for skilled personnel if we are to make films that will be seen and appreciated.” He also points out that, since the majority of African countries do not have public funding for films, such collaborations provides vital funding for African films that would otherwise not be made.

Speaking about the fact that Sunflowers has been invited to other markets and workshop programmes after being well received at Durban FilmMart, Tony Monty, Head of the Durban Film Office, said, “This is one of the reasons why DFM is such an important market for emerging filmmakers in Africa. It provides an important connection to the global industry, helping African projects to attract attention in an increasingly noisy industry.”

Sunflowers Behind a Dirty Fence is currently in development. Over the course of the coming months, Magoola will be working with director Simon Mukali on subsequent drafts of the film, together with the script consultant that will be assigned to them at ACE. The search is on for financiers for the film – although given the level of interest that Sunflowers has already attracted, that shouldn’t be too much of problem. Production of the film is set to start in April 2017.

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