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Film Africa has partnered with the National Film & Television School on the Baobab Award for Best Short Film. Students on the recently created MA in Film Studies, Programming & Curation watched over 450 submitted shorts 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.

Established in 2011, the Baobab Award exists to recognise and support new filmmaking voices emerging from across Africa and the African diaspora. Sponsored by curated content network What We Seee, the Award consists of a £1,500 cash prize. This year’s jury members are: British film writer/director Destiny Ekaragha; Film Programme Manager as the British Council, Jemma Desai; and Misan Harriman, founder of What We Seee. The winning short will be announced and screened for a second time the day after the public screening, at the Film Africa Closing Gala on Sunday 5 November at the Ciné Lumière.

Dir. Bruno Ribeiro
Brazil. 2016.14mins. Portuguese with English subtitles.

In a Rio de Janeiro’s upper middle class neighbourhood, a teenage boy comes to terms with his skin colour and sexuality in this beautifully shot coming of age story that subtlety captures the isolation, excitement and confusion of adolescence. 

Bruno Ribeiro was born in Rio de Janeiro and spent most of his childhood in Portugal. He has now returned to Rio and is studying Cinema and Audiovisual Studies at the Universidade Federeal Fluminens. Dirty Skin is his first short and he is currently working in his second, BR3.

Dir. Alamork Davidian and Kobi Davidian
Ethiopia, Israel. 2016. 15 mins. Amharic and Hebrew with English subtitles.  

Mimi reconstructs her immigration story. As her memories from the past mix with the present and future through a stream of consciousness, her identity dissolves and is lost between Ethiopia and Israel.

Alamork Davidian was born in Ethiopia and moved to Israel in 1991, where she graduated from the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in 2012. Her student films Korki and Cleaning Time screened at festivals around the world. Alamork’s 2016 short, Facing the Wall, won top prize at the Jerusalem International Film Festival.
Kobi Davidian was born in Israel and worked as a TV researcher before becoming a filmmaker. His documentary Turbulence has screened at several festivals and is studied in law faculties of Harvard, Duke and Tel Aviv Universities. Together they started a film production house for feature, documentary and archive film. They worked on Transitions together.

PIECE OF WOOD [حتة خشبة ]
Dir. Yassin Koptan
Egypt. 2016. 16 mins. Arabic with English subtitles.

All Adam wants to do is land the perfect skateboarding trick at his local mall. When his board is confiscated by a grumpy security guard, it’s up to him and best friend George to get it back in this charming comedy about friendship and following your dreams.

Born and raised in Alexandria, Yassin Koptan grew up skateboarding and made Piece of Wood as an interpretation of the struggle between two generations in Egypt where dreams are discouraged. He recently finished studying at the New York Film Academy and is now living and working in LA. Piece of Wood is Yassin’s second short film.

Dir. Ange-Regis Hounkpatin
Benin, France. 2017. 25 mins. French with English subtitles.

Son of a Beninese immigrant, 35 year old Solomon works as taxi driver in Strasbourg. Cut off from his family roots, he is about to donate his deceased father’s Voodoo costume to a museum when a young street-dancer reminds him that the ancestor soul lingers on.

Ange-Régis Hounkpatin was born and raised in Cotonou, Benin, and moved to France to study at the Femis school for cinema. He short films have screened at festivals around the world, including Champs Elysées Film Festival and Paris Courts Devant Festival, and his final-year student film, Rêves du Lions, won the Youth Award at the Côté Court Festival of Pantin 2014. Pantheon is Ange-Régis’ fifth short and will be broadcast on the Channel 2 in France.

Dir. Sihle Hlophe
South Africa. 2017.15 mins. SiSwati with English subtitles.

When Nomfundo is betrayed by the two people she holds closest to her heart she makes an erratic decision that unleashes a tragic chain of events, changing the course of her life forever. A visually stunning portrait of betrayal and revenge also notable for its use of SiSwati, a minority language that is largely unrepresented in the South African media.

Writer/director Sihle Hlophe is multi-degree earner, a Hot Docs Blue Ice Docs Grantee and a National Fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Institute For Creative Arts. She has written and directed two shorts and a handful of documentaries and has worked as a scriptwriter and story-liner for popular South African TV shows. Sihle’s work promotes minority languages and gives a platform to marginalised voices.

Dir. El Hadj Gueye
Senegal, Belgium. 2017.13 mins. Afrikaans and French with English subtitles.

13 year old Waly has not yet been circumcised. He is a laughing stock at work and the shame of the neighbourhood. Even the girl he has fallen for has rejected him. What can he do…that’s Waly’s problem!

El Hadj Gueye is from Touba, Senegal. Theatre is his passion and he founded Gëm Gëm Africa (Believe in Africa) Theatre Company in 2003, which has exhibited shows in cities across Senegal and in many festivals, including the Negro Arts Festival.  Waly’s Problem is El Hadj’s first short film.

Dir. Vincent Toi
Canada, Haiti, Mauritius. 2017.20 mins. Creole with English subtitles.

A man follows in the footsteps Franswa Mackandal, who in the 18th century was abducted and taken to Haiti as a slave, only to become the leader of the revolt against French colonial rule. This searing modern fable uses the structure of a Greek tragedy chorus to characterise its dark beginnings.

Born on Mauritius, Vincent Toi moved to Canada at 19 to study design in Toronto and filmmaking in Montreal. He is currently an art director at two major art institutions in Canada, the Phi Centre and the DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, both in Montreal. His most recent feature-length documentary I’ve Seen the Unicorn screened at numerous international festivals. This is his third short film.

Dir. Mehdi M. Barsaoui
Tunisia. 2016.19 mins. Arabic with English subtitles.

In his old age, Baba Azizi (played by renowned filmmaker Nouri Bouzid) is passed from house to house by his children, ending up at his daughter’s. Feb up with his lack of freedom, he invents a clever way of getting his own way. But can he trust his grandson to keep quiet?

Mehdi M. Barsaoui is a graduate of the Higher Institute of Multimedia Arts in Tunis and DAMS in Bologna, Italy. He has directed three short films that have won awards and screened at several international festivals. Medhi is currently developing his first feature film with support from Rawi Sundance Screenwriters Lab.