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Focus Features' Africa First Celebrates its Fifth Year; Accepting Entries for 2012 Prize

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood May 9, 2012 at 11:39AM

Focus Features' Africa First Celebrates its Fifth Year; Accepting Entries for 2012 Prize

Africa First

The Africa First initiative earmarks funds exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence. (See video below for a showcase of past work.) The competition allows participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for preproduction, production, and/or post-production of their narrative short film made in continental Africa.  Past sort films in the program have been showcased at Sundance, Toronto, London, and Berlin Film Festivals.

To celebrate its fifth year, Focus Features' Africa First Program will accept entries beginning Monday May 14, continuing through Monday August 20.  The five filmmakers selected will be notified by October 2012, and will retain copyrights and distribution rights.

The Africa First advisory board members are Ms. Mahen Bonetti, founder and executive director of the African Film Festival; journalist and documentary filmmaker Ms. Jihan El-Tahiri; Ms. June Givanni, who for four years programmed the Toronto International Film Festival’s Planet Africa series; Ms. Sharifa Johka, film programmer and independent producer; Mr. Pedro Pimenta, producer and manager of training programs throughout South Africa; and Mr. Keith Shiri, founder/director of the Africa at the Pictures film festival in the U.K.

This article is related to: Focus Features, Awards

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.