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Netflix looks to broadcast more African content

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Netflix has collaborated with African filmmaker incubator Realness Institute to launch an Episodic Content Development Lab for African writers.

The South African-based non-profit organisation (NPO), which supports the development of African content and its makers, says it will open submissions for the writers’ lab at the end of November.

The opportunity will be open to writers from SA, Kenya and Nigeria, with film and TV experience in any genre (fictional or factual) or language. Six writers will be selected from these submissions to work on projects that will be developed and commissioned by Netflix.

The selected writers will be paid a stipend of $2 000 per month to participate, and will be expected to be available full time from June to September 2021.

Over the past year, there has been a clear appetite for fresh African content on global streaming platforms, according to the two organisations. Netflix recently enjoyed success with its first two African original series, Queen Sono and Blood & Water.

“We strongly believe Africa has a wealth of untold stories,” says Dorothy Ghettuba, who leads Netflix’s African Original Series.

“As we grow our slate of originals in Africa, partnerships with organisations like Realness will help us achieve our goal of investing in writers who will bring diverse genres of authentic, local stories that will ensure our audience members see their lives reflected on screen.”

Realness Institute says its mission is to unearth the wealth of African stories – told with an honest and unapologetic point of view by African filmmakers.

Since inception in 2015, the institute says it has delivered five editions of its Screenwriters’ Residency programme and developed the first Creative Producer Indaba in 2020, as a Development Executive Traineeship.

The NPO will expand its offering in 2021 to the episodic content space, as a further step towards its mission to empower storytellers on the continent and the diaspora, and push the African audio-visual industry forward. Netflix’s role is to bring its expertise in episodic content development, production and insight into global content trends.

“This programme is a response to the dramatically changing broadcasting ecosystem, which has a very important role to play in building a thriving media ecosystem in local markets and providing episodic creators with distribution opportunities,” says Mehret Mandefro, veteran Ethiopian broadcaster and Realness Institute director of development and partnerships.

The call for submissions will be available on the Realness Institute Web site on 30 November.

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