19 February 2013

Uganda: How Dutch Film Fest Can Help Ugawood

International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), a world renowned film festival held every year in the Netherlands, could shape the future of Ugawood.

The revelation came during the festival's recently concluded 42nd edition which I attended as one of the participants in the trainee project for Young Film Critics. The programme admits six journalists every year.

During my trip, partly sponsored by the Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC), government's film regulatory body, I realized Ugandan filmmakers can easily tap into IFFR's main financial grants programme, the Hubert Bals Fund, to solve their perennial financial problems.

The fund donates a whopping €1m (about Shs 3.7bn) every year to various film initiatives in developing countries.

"It is meant to help remarkable or urgent film initiatives and talented filmmakers from developing countries. Our grants often turn out to play a crucial role in enabling these filmmakers to achieve their dreams," HBF director Iwana Chronis said of the fund that has so far benefited over 1,000 film projects across the world.

Selected projects receive this much: script and workshops €10,000 (about Shs 37m), production €20,000 (Shs 74m), post production €30,000 (Shs 111m) and distribution €15, 000 (Shs 55.5m). Application guidelines can be found online.

"We receive about 750 applications each year and only 10% of those are from Africa," Chronis explained, urging Ugandan filmmakers to apply for the funds.

IFFR has got several other funds which could benefit Ugandan filmmakers. For instance, there is the €50,000 (Shs 185m) HBF Plus, an additional fund given to an HBF beneficiary who partners with Dutch producers.

IFFR also occasionally supports film initiatives by young African filmmakers upon special request by writing to them. IFFR is famous for discovering fresh film talents.

Many of the films and filmmakers who have made it to Rotterdam have easily landed international distribution deals. It becomes easy for films to enter other international film festivals once they have screened at IFFR.

Unlike other festivals which only give out plaques to winning films, IFFR gives out cash prizes.

There are over 13 competition categories, ranging from best experimental film works to best shorts. Cash prizes range from €5,000 (Shs 13.5m) to €15,000 (Shs 55.5m).

Selected projects/beneficiaries are announced ten days after the submission deadline.

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