African News Round Up

80% Of The Budget For 'Half Of A Yellow Sun' Came From Nigerian Investors

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Adding to our last post on the cross-continental co-production that is the film adaptation of Half Of A Yellow Sun, I thought this revelation from a Variety profile of the film this morning was something to share: 80% of the film's production budget came from Nigerian investors.

With a budget of around $8 million, that comes to $6.4 milion.

But the point is that the bulk of the film's budget came from Nigeria, which is noteworthy and a very good thing.

While the infrastructure may not yet be there to handle a full-scale Hollywood-style production, the money most certainly is. It's easy to look at Nollywood cinema and its lo-budget/no-budget aesthetics, and immediately dismiss Nigerian film industry product as a contender on the international marketplace (even though it is in the top 3 in the world in terms of output); but that's changing as Nigerian filmmakers in Nigeria and outside of the country, continue to push for films that can compete globally, and as international productions like Half Of A Yelow Sun (Nigeria/UK co-production, with actors from 3 continents in starring roles), are made in Nigeria, hiring mostly Nigerian crew (about 60% in this case), who get the experience of working on a full-scale, high-budget feature film production - experience that should have some impact on future productions, and that might make the country more attractive to international productions, for better or worse, given that most potential non-Nigerian filmmakers and investors are intimidated by the prospects of shooting a film in Nigeria.

The government can also help by doing what many other countries around the world do to attract international film production - introducing incentives and rebates.

But black filmmakers here in the USA really should consider looking at Nigeria as a potential source of funding. Thomas Ikimi got the money he needed to shoot his thriller Legacy (which starred Idris Elba) almost entirely from Nigerian investors.

The fact that Half Of A Yellow Sun's budget was amost entirely Nigerian money speaks to what I believe this blog has championed for a long time - and that is the idea that together, as black people, we have the resources and ability to finance the development of our own projects much more often than we do currentl, outside of the traditional Hollywood system.

One thing I should point out that the Variety piece gets wrong is the title which reads: 'Yellow Sun' rises in East Africa - Hollywood finds funding, crew for Nigerian tale. ( the lack of basic google skills - OP

The problem is that Nigeria is in West Africa not East Africa.


Africa's Oprah Winfrey Launching Her Own TV Network As Well

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The "Africa's Oprah Winfrey" label isn't one I came up with; that's what she's been called within and outside of Africa, although she's originally from Nigeria, born and educated in the UK primarily. And I should note that it's a label she rejects; although I wonder if the two have ever met. I couldn't find any evidence that they have.

Her name is Mo Abudu, a talk show host, TV producer, media personality. Her talk show, Moments with Mo, was launched in 2006 on South Africa's subscription-funded TV network M-Net, and is said to be the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television.

The talk show was an instant success, immediately drawing comparisons to the Oprah Winfrey Show, covering numerous topics ranging from lifestyle, health, culture, politics, entertainment, and much more, with guests including celebrities, Presidents, Nobel Laureates, and even the 67th US Secretary-of-State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And with the success of Moments with Mo (it aired in 48 African countries, and also now airs on cable TV in other parts of the world), the 47-year-old entrepreneur is launching a new network set to debut on South African pay-TV platform DStv called EbonyLife TV.

It is set to launch in early 2013. It's the first time that a fully Nigerian-owned network will be carried by DStv.

No word yet on what the new network's programming will include specifically, but Ms Abudu says the 24 hour channel will focus on celebrating the lives and accomplishments of Africans, and providing a more complete representation of continental Africa.

Content will include original series, news and talkshows, along with imported content "that addresses issues relevant to black audiences in Africa and its diaspora."

Mo Abudu states:

The goal of the new network is to produce content that gives young people hope across the continent [a group that she says remains underserved by African media, apart from music-driven channels like MTV Base]. These are the people that 10 years from now are going to be running the continent, and we're not engaging them. We want to make sure that the content we produce has global appeal... The vision is a global vision for EbonyLife.

Production on original content is reportedly already in motion, as Abudu works on finding partners around the world to expand EbonyLife TV's reach internationally.

Something to watch going forward...

By the way, Tinapa Studios, a high-end film and TV production studio in Nigeria is being redeveloped Mo Abudu; and it also happens to be home to the production of Half Of A Yellow Sun, which wrapped shooting a few weeks ago.

And if you'd like to watch Mo in action on her show, it has a YouTube channel with clips from episodes of the show, like the one I embedded below (access the YouTube channel HERE):


Kinshasa Symphony': An Ode To Musical Joy In Central Africa

An amazing new documentary film is a must-see not just for music lovers, but for anyone who needs to see the nourishing power of the arts and human connections.

Kinshasa Symphony takes us into the everyday lives of the members of a most unlikely ensemble: the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, located in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place ravaged by war, endemic poverty and corruption.

The constant hassles and logistical problems these amateur musicians face should give serious pause to those of us leading far more privileged lives in music. They tackle big pieces — like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Orff's Carmina Burana — out of sheer love, learning their instruments and craft as they go.

Conductor Armand Diangienda founded the orchestra in 1994 after losing his job as an airline pilot. Never conservatory trained, he calls himself "just inquisitive by nature." He named the ensemble after his grandfather, Simon Kimbangu, a political icon in Congolese history, who also founded a Christian sect that went on to become Africa's largest independent African church.

When Diangienda first gathered 12 young people who wanted to learn to play the violin, he had only five instruments: "One of them would play for 20 minutes, and then pass the violin on to the next one." When violin strings broke, they replaced them with brake cables from old bicycles. When they needed a C trumpet, they cut up another instrument. And when they needed a bell for another trumpet, they transformed the wheel rim from an old minibus.

Albert Nlandu Matubanza, the orchestra's manager, also makes many of the orchestra's instruments himself. Years ago, there were many more instruments available in Kinshasa, but as Matubanza ruefully notes, a lot of them were stolen. Out of necessity, Matubanza has become a self-taught luthier; he took apart his own bass to figure out how it was made, then started making stringed instruments to equip the orchestra.

The group's open-air rehearsals are frequently punctuated by the noise and noxious clouds of dust and diesel spewed by cars and trucks passing along Kinshasa's unpaved streets. Electrical outages are frequent — so much so that the orchestra has a routine to deal with the annoyance. One of the group's violists, Joseph Masunda Lutete, knows to step in immediately: "When there's a power cut," he says, "I just drop my instrument and go start the generator."

(trailer from the documentary made about them 2 years ago)

The film's narrative arc takes us to their performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in an empty, dirt-filled public square. But what is most revealing, and most gripping, is to see how these musicians deal with the impossible reality of Kinshasa, made possible every day by its hardworking, creative and tenacious people. One of the most wrenching segments follows Nathalie Bahati, a flutist and single mother, as she struggles to find a $40 per month apartment to keep little more than a roof over the head of the young son who accompanies her everywhere, including to her rehearsals.

The joy they take in their music-making is what gets them through. As the orchestra's concertmaster, Héritier Mayimbi Mbuangi says, "When we're working on the music, there are no limits. It's like a staircase: You go up, and up."

source 1,2,3,4,5

wasn't sure how to tag this...