Established in 2011, the Film Africa Baobab Award for Best Short Film exists to recognise and support filmmaking in Africa and to find new voices emerging from the continent. The Award consists of a £1,500 cash prize and is judged by a jury of filmmakers and industry professionals. Film Africa considers all submitted short films for the award that fit the following criteria:
- Short films made by African and African diaspora filmmakers.
- Only filmmakers who have not yet made a feature-length film are eligible.
- The Baobab Award covers works of fiction only (including experimental). Documentaries will be considered for the main programme but will not be eligible for the Award.
- Only films of 30 minutes or under will be considered.
- Year of production must be 2016 or after.
Film Africa has a programme partnership with the National Film & Television School. Students on the recently created MA in Film Studies, Programming & Curation watched over 450 submitted shorts in 2017 and provided the festival programme committee with a shortlist of 100, from which eight were selected. The partnership is aimed at encouraging an appreciation and knowledge of African cinema in the next generation of film programmers.
The winner of the seventh Baobab Award went to Waly’s Problem [Diafee Diafeey Waly] from first-time Senegalese filmmaker El Hadj Gueye. Vying for the £1,000 cash prize against seven other titles, the film centres on a 13-year-old boy who is shamed and rejected by his peers because he is not yet circumcised. Gueye said he made Waly’s Problem to raise awareness amongst Senegalese parents. Jury member Jemma Desai, Programme Manager at the British Council, said:
“Waly’s Problem really impressed the jury with its insightful humour and confident direction of a largely non-professional cast. The film stood out with its exceptional storytelling whilst tackling important social issues on a modest budget.”