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"Buddha In Africa" (Story Of Malawian Boy Raised In Chinese Orphanage & Trained In Martial Arts) Gets Development Boost

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by Tambay A. Obenson
February 9, 2012 5:15 PM
6 Comments
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Chicken & Egg Pictures - the award-winning hybrid film fund and non-profit production company dedicated to supporting women filmmakers - announced its 2012 Open Call grant recipients today, and it's quite the international list of projects, including stories set in Africa like this one which immediately got my attention.

It's titled Buddha of Africa (a working title), and it's a South Africa/Malawi production (currently in development), from director Nicole Schafer.

Its synopsis reads as follows:

Against the backdrop of China’s growing influence on the African continent, Buddha of Africa tells the intimate story of a Malawian orphan growing up in a Chinese Buddhist Orphanage in Malawi. He learns Mandarin, practices Buddhism and becomes a young master of the ancient art of Shaolin Kung Fu. His life is transformed. But the surrounding community is suspicious of this upbringing and this new form of foreign “aid” and they question to what extent he’ll still be Malawian when he’s grown up one day.

I'm most certainly intrigued for what should be obvious reasons. Matters of Chinese influence in (or occupation of, as I've heard others describe it) the African continent are certainly still very topical, and we've covered several films (documentaries and feature fictional narratives) that have tackled th subject in some form.

And this story does reflect reality; to wit, the image (courtesy of the New York Times) at the top of this post is of a Malawian student practicing a Chinese form of exercise and meditation called Qigong. He's one of many orphaned children from Malawi trained to speak Mandarin at a Buddhist orphanage in the country, as well as perform dance and kung-fu.

But there's little else for me to go on with regards to this particular project, and I've added it to my "watch list" so I can follow any progress it makes from here on.

I do hope they change that title though! Really, I hope they do :)

Chicken & Egg Pictures claims to be the first organization devoted entirely to women filmmakers to provide strategically-timed financial support ($2 million in total thus far) and rigorous hands-on mentorship directly to women filmmakers to nurture, support and promote their films.

I should also note that Nekisa Cooper, producer of Pariah, was awarded the the first Creative Producer grant from Chicken and Egg pictures this year at the Sundance Film Festival - a $10,000 award! So congrats to Nekisa on that!

There are more titles for me to highlight from their 2012 Open Call grant recipient list, and I'll do so in later posts.

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6 Comments

  • Elena Travis | February 18, 2013 3:13 AMReply

    I've been to the orphanage this young Malawian boy is from. It is very beautiful. It provides very many daily meals for persons outside of the orphanage. I was informed the choice is left to the children eg: whether they wish to participate in the training of martial arts, etc. I was also told the bulk of the funds actually come from Taiwan (where the Buddhist leaders in this case originate). I believe the intention of those running this orphanage is very genuine and committed for the wellbeing of African orphans (in their thousands). Where else would this care come from I wonder? Sadly there is still much poverty (but I note many road improvements that I was told were helped to be funded from car manufacturers). I could not help but observe that most of the cars on the roads were Japanese. Its a tough world.

  • Robert | May 15, 2012 6:31 PMReply

    Tom they are not chinese but taiwanese.

  • Tom | April 30, 2012 9:14 AMReply

    If Chinese are really positive power, then they should first respect the Tibetan people under their
    occupations. The things are not very good in Tibet with thirty people self immolates for basic human rights is not a good sign of China to Africa. That is the reason why the world does'nt trust China. Respect is earned by showing respect. Love the Lama, earn Karma.

  • Huewilly | February 10, 2012 2:12 AMReply

    Thanks for sharing Tambay! This is my kind of story, I'm a fan of martial arts and martial arts films, intrigued with Asian and African culture and love filmmaking! Sounds like an interesting story right up my alley!

  • Suzan | February 9, 2012 8:39 PMReply

    I second that Saadiyah damn this has the potential to be awesome

  • saadiyah | February 9, 2012 6:10 PMReply

    I think this sounds fascinating. If it stays away from the suffering Africans theme that I've grown sick and tired of, I'll definitely see it.

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