Nigeria: Netflix, Unesco Launch Short Film Competition for Sub-Saharan African Filmmakers

Winners of the competition will be provided with a US$75,000 production budget to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022

Netflix and UNESCO have partnered to launch an innovative short film competition on ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Winners of the competition will be trained and mentored by industry professionals and provided with a US$75,000 production budget to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022 as an “Anthology of African folktales”.

They say a key aim of this competition is to discover new voices and to give emerging filmmakers in Sub-Saharan Africa visibility on a global scale.

“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,” a joint statement issued by both parties read.


The competition, which will be administered by Dalberg (https://Dalberg.com), will open on October 14, 2021, until November 14, 2021. Each of the six winners will receive a production grant of US$75,000 (through a local production company) to develop, shoot and post-produce their films. This will be under the guidance of industry mentors selected by UNESCO and Netflix to ensure everyone involved in the production is fairly compensated. In addition, each of the six winners will also receive $25,000.

UNESCO and Netflix “both strongly believe in the importance of promoting diverse local stories, and bringing them to the world”.

They recognise that many emerging filmmakers struggle with finding the right resources and visibility to enable them to fully unleash their talents and develop their creative careers.

This competition aims to address these issues and enable African storytellers to take a first step towards showcasing their content to a global audience.

This partnership will also help create sustainable employment and encourage economic growth and it will therefore contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a series of targets established by the United Nations which aims to end global poverty in all its forms by the end of this decade.

This film competition will also help reduce inequalities by facilitating access to global markets and by guaranteeing dignified working conditions. All of these are key goals within the 2030 Agenda.

How to apply

Candidates will need to submit a synopsis of their concept, no more than 500 words, in a Creative Statement as well as a link to a recent CV and a portfolio of any past audio-visual work they have produced on https://bit.ly/3iZYKMM

Applications can be made via https://bit.ly/3iZYKMM from October 14 and will close on November 13.

The competition is open to individuals seeking to venture into feature film development and production.

Applicants must have a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years of demonstrable professional experience in the audio-visual industry. Applicants must have developed and produced one to two theatrical feature films, television fiction, documentaries, or two to three short films and/or commercials.

Candidates must be a citizen of a Sub-Saharan African country and currently residing in Sub-Saharan Africa. They must be 18-35 years old at the time of submission.

Shortlisted finalists

The shortlisted 20 candidates will be announced in January and will then be invited to a “How to Pitch to Netflix” workshop to guide them on how to prepare, polish, and present their film concepts. An independent judging panel, under the guidance of UNESCO and Netflix, will choose the six winners, who will then develop their 12 to 20-minute short films under the guidance of industry mentors selected by Netflix and UNESCO

The competition is open to emerging filmmakers across Sub-Saharan Africa on the theme of “African Folktales, Reimagined.” This theme is inspired by the African Union 2063 Agenda’s Aspiration 5, which celebrates African cultural identity, common heritage, values, and ethics. The organisers say the competition aims to harness this important tradition with a modern outlook while leveraging new mediums of distributing artistic and creative content, like Netflix.

For the first round, applicants 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/ evidence of any past audio-visual work they have produced. Applications can be submitted via https://bit.ly/3BKQebK from October 14 at 16:00 CET and will close on November 14, 2021, at 13:59 PM CET.

UNESCO comments:

“It is important that the film sector acts to ensure the voices of Africa are heard, 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.” – Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO.