A set of newly reworked African folk tales is soon to launch on Netflix. The anthology of stories, retold by a new generation of six storytellers, has been produced in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The six short films were made as part of a collaboration by Netflix and UNESCO to specifically support an emerging generation of storytellers, including a budget of $90,000 and creative guidance from established filmmakers and mentors.
From an open call for submission in 2021, the group of filmmakers was finally selected following over 2,000 applications from 13 different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Six applicants were eventually chosen and will represent Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritania, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, working in nine different languages, including Hausa, Kiswahili, Runyankole, Cigogo, Hassānīya Arabic, isiXhosa, French, and English.
With subject matters ranging from healthcare and the pandemic to mystery, fantasy, and virtual worlds with the backdrop of classic African folk tales, the project unites history, culture, creativity, and linguistic diversity.
Tendeka Matatu, director of film for Netflix in Africa, said, “We are excited to finally bring this anthology of short films created by the next generation of African storytellers to Netflix members around the world… This initiative is a testament to our ongoing efforts to strengthen the pipeline of African storytelling and to include voices from underrepresented communities.”
He added, “We’re grateful for our partners at UNESCO who walked this journey with us to provide an opportunity for the six emerging African filmmakers to create and showcase their reimagined folk tales to the world, in their own languages, so that more people can see their lives reflected on screen.”
The competition marked a progressive step toward creative equity as part of the Netflix Creative Equity Fund, aiming to provide a creative platform for people from underrepresented communities in entertainment, with hopes of bringing their perspectives to a global audience.
Ernesto Ottone R., the UNESCO assistant director-general for culture, said in a statement, “UNESCO is proud to present the tales of Africa, reimagined by its emerging, homegrown talents. At the crossroads of tradition, innovation, heritage, and creativity, African expressions in the 21st century are as diverse and dynamic as its people. The UNESCO–Netflix partnership represents our shared commitment to the audiovisual industries of Africa, which have the potential to generate US$20 billion in revenues annually. African creativity is a force for sustainable development, and we cannot wait for the audiences around the world to feel its unstoppable energy.”