malawi china

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.