Written by Joe Jackson on Oct 15, 2021. Posted in Awards and Festivals

Netflix and UNESCO call for African filmmakers to adapt folktales

A new competition is challenging Sub-Saharan African filmmakers to adapt folktales into films. Organised by Netflix and UNESCO, the six winners of African Folktales, Reimagined will be provided with a production budget of USD75,000 as well as USD25,000 in prize money. Finished projects will premiere on Netflix in 2022 under the title Anthology of African Folktales.


“Africa has a rich storytelling heritage and a wealth of folktales that have been passed down for generations,” emphasises Ben Amadasun, Netflix’s Director of Content in Africa. “When you marry these very local stories with Africa’s emerging talent, there’s no limit to fresh new stories to connect people with African cultures and bring the world that much closer to each other.”



Folktales across the planet offer ways to impart vital cultural messages to generations of the future. The competition aims to endow local stories from different parts of Sub-Saharan Africa with the global distribution possibilities presented by Netflix’s digital services. “We want to find the bravest, wittiest, and most surprising retellings of some of Africa’s most-loved folktales and share them with entertainment fans around the world in over 190 countries,” declares UNESCO and Netflix in a joint statement.


The competition is designed to discover emerging voices, giving new filmmakers from Sub-Saharan African visibility on a global scale. Each of the six winner must use their production grant to develop, shoot, and edit under the guidance of UNESCO and Netflix’s mentors. For the first round, applicants who wish to follow in the footsteps of Ousmane Sembène, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Sarah Maldoror and other African film legends will be required to submit a synopsis of their concept (no more than 500 words) as well as links to a recent CV and a portfolio, or similar evidence, of any past audiovisual work they have produced.


“It is important that the film sector acts to ensure the voices of Africa are heard,” reasons Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General, “by supporting the emergence of diverse cultural expressions, putting forth new ideas and emotions, and creating opportunities for creators to contribute to global dialogue for peace, culture and development." Applications are now open and will close on November 14th 2021.


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