Baobab Award

We are pleased to announce BABA as the winner of the Film Africa 2022 Baobab Award for Best Short Film. On winning, Director Mbithi Mayasa said “We are deeply honoured to hear BABA was chosen as the winner of the Film Africa 2022 Baobab Award for Best Short Film. We are thankful to all the judges for seeing and honouring our work. Many people gave themselves to this project, and it is rewarding to know that their work was felt.

Thank you, Film Africa, and thank you to the audiences who came out to see the films. You’re making this work worth it.

I’d like to appreciate the other filmmakers in the short film section who are still out here creating magic in a difficult world that is rapidly changing around us.”

Juror’s Statement

The shortlist for this year was particularly strong: we went from Senegal to South Africa, Kenya to Ghana, from UK, to France, to Egypt, Réunion & Guinea-Bissau. We travelled emotionally with each one from elements of Black joy, to hope, to devastating beauty and pain discovering unknown histories and untold stories along the way. It was a difficult decision to make and every single film had exceptional engagement; the process of judging left us inspired and invigorated. We salute all ten films and are so glad they are in the world telling a multitude of stories from the continent and the diaspora.

We would on this occasion like to give a special mention to one film for its originality, creativity and artistic merit. It stood out for us in terms of ambition and we feel that this director is one to watch. We are very excited to see such work that pushes the envelope come out of the continent. Beyond the visual, experimental language of the film melded so well with the cinematic; the use of poetry and metaphors that speak to universal themes such as personal and human evolution, identity and love, we were enthralled and are thus spotlighting Black Ultraviolet by Simba Mahachi as our choice to receive a Special Mention as part of the 2022 Baobab Award Shorts.

Only one winner is possible though.

The Film Africa 2022 Baobab Award goes to a beautifully shot, brave outing filled with clear directorial choices and vision: BABA by Mbithi Masya. From the opening shot till the last frame of the film, we felt that each shot was mesmerising. The brilliant casting choices and performances by Malik Wandera as Baba and Victor Makgati as Kevin that feel as authentic and complex as real life. The tragic story of a child victim scored with music, dialogue and silence used in deft and deafening way throughout. Baba is an indelible story that left us sobbing and too with quiet hope.

One of the driving forces behind the Baobab Award is it’s discovery element and we hope that in spotlighting this film it will travel widely and touch many hearts and minds as it did ours. Congratulations to Mbithi Masya and all the cast and crew.

About the Baobab Award

Established in 2011, the Film Africa Baobab Award for Best Short Film exists to recognise and support emerging filmmaking across Africa and its diaspora. The Award consists of a £1,000 cash prize and is judged by an expert jury of filmmakers and industry professionals. Film Africa considers all submitted short films that meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Short must be 30 minutes or under and made by African or African diaspora filmmaker.
  • Director must not yet have made a feature-length film – i.e. emphasis is on emerging talent.
  • Short must be fiction/experimental– documentaries will only be considered for the main programme.
  • Year of production must be a maximum of two years prior to the date of submission.

Film Africa has a programme partnership with the National Film & Television School to select the Baobab Award, which is ultimately aimed at encouraging an appreciation and knowledge of African cinema in the next generation of film programmers. With guidance from the Film Africa team, students on the MA in Film Studies, Programming & Curation watch all submitted shorts and provide our festival programmers with a long-list of 100 from which the final shortlist is then selected.