national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, September 5, 2023


Markets like FAME Week Africa that attract serious international buyers and distributors looking for content, present an ideal opportunity for creators to shine, network and do business.

As part of MIP Africa and FAME Week, now in its second year in Cape Town, South Africa, the Realness Institute, the Africa-based film-maker development organisation, will host two major pitching forums and a short film festival bringing a tangible demonstration of the value-chain provided to filmmakers through its various industry incubators and training programmes. These programmes contribute to a robust film and audio-visual sector across Africa and the Diaspora, and over the past eight years have grown a strong network of talent that is also multidisciplinary and highly invested in repositioning Africa to the world through stories, through film and cinema.

Alumni of six Realness Institute programmes will pitch their films and television series to the market in The Film Pitch and The Episodic Pitch forums. Alongside this, the current cohort of the Institute’s Southern Africa Locarno Industry Academy (SALIA) have programmed and co-organised the FAME Week Africa Short Film Festival which begins on September 7, 2023, at The Labia Theatre.

Writers/directors from the 7th edition of the Realness African Screenwriters’ Residency programme, which has birthed films that have completed and been awarded at Sundance, Berlinale and Toronto among others, will be pitching. To date the residency has supported 48 feature films from 21 countries across the continent. This year’s cohort are from Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa and have just completed six weeks of creative incubation.  Producer and co-founder of Realness Institute, Cait Pansegrouw will present the film pitch that took place on Monday, September 4 at MIP Africa Theatre 2 in the Cape Town Convention Center.

After three years of running its episodic offerings in partnership with Netflix, Series Mania, and Storyboard Collective, Realness Institute features the creme de la creme of African series in development with power house writers like Neo Sybia and Angela Wamai among those pitching at The Episodic Pitch. Here eight shows, six of which are from female creators, covering a diverse range of genres from Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa will be presented to the market. To date, the episodic labs have developed 22 television shows from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa with three greenlights. Producer and co-founder of Realness Institute, Mehret Mandefro moderated this Pitch on Tuesday, September 5 at MIP Africa Theatre 2.

Speaking of her experience in the 2022 Realness Episodic Lab, Neo Sibiya who is pitching at FAME Week with her project a Neo Noir #metoo thriller Ukushona Kwelanga (The Setting of The Sun)  says “It helped me to find my voice and confidence in my writing. It really woke me up to the power of trusting and tapping into what I want to say and how.”

Also pitching at FAME Week from Realness Institute’s Development Executive Traineeship 2022 and Screenwriters Residency 2023 alumnus Babalwa Baartman (South Africa), who says, “As an entrepreneurial filmmaker who wants to establish herself as a Writer / Creative Producer within the ecosystem, The DET Traineeship and Screenwriters Residency have been resource-filled spaces for me to finesse my positioning.”

The FAME Short Film Festival, which closes MIP Africa, is a practical deliverable of the residency work done by the cohort in the Southern Africa Locarno Industry Academy (SALIA). Artistic Director of this inaugural Film Festival, Lyse Nsengiyumva says, “This festival is not only a celebration of the vibrant and burgeoning talent within the African filmmaking community but also a platform through which we hope to connect people and communities through the magic of film. Together with the selection committee, we've carefully curated a programme of 32 exceptional short films that exemplify the richness of African and African Diaspora storytelling. The selected talented filmmakers infuse the world of cinema with fresh perspectives and innovative storytelling.”

Durban FilmMart Industry Programme Curator Mitchell Harper, an alumnus of the inaugural SALIA last year comments: “The Southern African Locarno Industry Academy programme is crucial for industry professionals of all levels. It curated together industry professionals of the highest calibre who imparted not only their knowledge, but also their own personal journeys. The programme also encouraged a space of sharing amongst the cohort of industry peers, looking to not only develop their own careers, but to make a significant impact on the industry at large.”

Mehret Mandefro, co-founder and Director of Development and Partnerships of Realness, says: “We are truly pleased that our presence at FAME WEEK Africa, with some 40 talent that have come through our industry development programmes over the last three years, is a manifestation of the organisation’s tangible contribution to the film sector’s ecosystem,” It has been our objective to work towards nurturing all parts of the value chain - from development to producing features and episodic series, to programming, exhibition and distribution.”

The FAME Short Film Festival takes place from September 7 to 9, 2023, at the Labia Theatre, Cape Town. 

To view the programme, go to