Press release

Netflix & UNESCO announce the winners of the ‘African folktales, reimagined’ short film competition

Netflix_Voline Ogutu

After launching a ground-breaking competition to find some of Sub-Saharan Africa’s up and coming filmmakers, entitled ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ Netflix and UNESCO can now announce the six winners. Each winner will receive US$25,000 plus a production budget of US$75,000 to create short films through a local production company and under the guidance of Netflix-appointed supervising producer and industry mentors from across the continent. Staying true to the competition’s aim of showcasing Africa’s rich cultural heritage, the short films will feature reimagined African folktales presented in multiple African languages.

NameCountryThe MentorProject nameLanguage
Mr. Mohamed EchkounaMauritaniaFemi OdugbemiThe Enmity DjinnHassaniya Arabic & French
Mr. Walter MzengiTanzaniaTosh Gitonga,KatopeKiSwahili & ciGogo
Ms. Korede AzeezNigeriaJenna BassAdieu SalutHausa & Fulfulde (Fula)
Ms. Voline OgutuKenyaLeila Afua DjansiAnyango and the OgreEnglish, KiSwahili & Luo
Ms. Gcobisa YakoSouth AfricaBongiwe SelaneUma MlamboXhosa
Mr. Loukman AliUgandaPape BoyeKatera of the Punishment IslandEnglish & Runyankole

The final six filmmakers will now go into the development phase of their projects, before starting production on the short films that will eventually premiere on Netflix as part of ‘An Anthology of African Folktales’ later this year.

The competition was launched by Netflix and UNESCO in October 2021, with the goal of promoting diverse local stories and bringing them to the world. The competition was also a step towards creative equity - as part of the Netflix Creative Equity Fund, which aims at enabling new voices from underrepresented communities within entertainment to bring their perspectives to a global audience.

Congratulations to the six winners! The fact that their films will be shown to a global audience is part of our commitment to promote cultural diversity around the world. Like the African movie sector itself, these six individuals have a very bright future ahead of them. The laureates, and all the participants in this competition more broadly, highlight the rich, diverse and ever-evolving culture that Sub-Saharan Africa has to offer and that UNESCO wants to promote. We cannot wait to celebrate these films at a special premier at UNESCO headquarters in Paris at the end of this year.
UNESCO Director-General
Audrey Azoulay Director-General of UNESCO
It’s been a truly inspiring journey for us to experience the level of creative talent from our candidates. From the thousands of applicants we’ve received to the Top 21 and finally, the 6 finalists - it’s evident that Africa is filled with amazing storytelling talent that is ready to share their different perspectives and celebrate Africa’s rich culture and heritage. Congratulations to the winners - and to emerging filmmakers who didn’t make it - we urge you to continue your passion of telling African stories. The world is ready to experience your talent and we at Netflix, will continue to be your biggest cheerleaders in this journey.
Ben Amadasun Netflix Director of Content in Africa

Mohamed Echkouna (Mauritania)

Mohamed is a Filmmaker and VFX Technical Director from Mauritania. His passion for film and belief in its power to guide emotions and reshape perspectives within and about African cultures are the main drive of his career. He joined the African Leadership Academy in South Africa for two years of entrepreneurship and leadership training, and graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Visual Effects and Technical Direction. After his studies, Mohamed went on to make short films in Mauritania while also working in Visual Effects for the creative studio Framestore. He wrote and directed his latest short film Trail Of Hope. It won multiple awards, screened at over a dozen film festivals worldwide, and featured on various online platforms. Mohamed is currently working on a variety of shows, commercials and VR projects for Framestore clients, including HBO, Netflix and Showtime.

Mohamed Echkouna

Walt Mzengi (Tanzania)

Walt Mzengi, is a filmmaker from Tanzania whose background in film started at AFDA, a film school in Cape Town, where he received a three-year scholarship to major in Directing and Screenwriting.

While in South Africa, he worked on several award-winning films (Mthunzi 2019, Heavens Reaches down to Earth 2020) and directed films that have been selected to screen at festivals around the world (Gulf 2019, Timêla 2020).

After he received his degree he returned to Tanzania with the goal of mentoring aspiring local filmmakers to collaborate and produce Tanzanian films. This extends to teaching film and deconstructing conventional film structures to encourage narratives that are contemporary and authentic to the filmmakers' identity.

Walt is a true believer in the responsibility and power of the visual media creative. He pursues the production of stories that hold the more delicate and often unspoken truths of humanity, and society. It is through his compassion and keen visual eye that Walt produces his work.

Walter Mzengi

Korede Azeez (Nigeria)

Korede Azeez was introduced to filmmaking in 2018 when she joined BBC Media Action as an assistant technical producer. There, she worked as a sound recordist and camera operator on several TV spots, audio drama productions, and documentaries. Eager to make films, she co-founded Hive Film Collective with colleagues and directed the first short film produced by the collective: ‘Tip of the Edge’. The film offers a glimpse into the mind of a woman with mental health problems.

After Tip of the Edge, Korede has made two other short films: ‘Play’, about a grieving nurse terrified of losing her daughter to COVID and ‘Mancoin’, a lo-fi fantasy/sci-fi film based on an urban legend.

In 2021, she was selected alongside 10 other filmmakers to direct her first feature film under the Natives Filmworks New Directors Program. Her first feature film ‘It Blooms in June’ is slated for release in 2022.

Korede believes Africa has a wealth of stories to tell and looks forward to sharing some of those stories with the world.

Netflix_Korede Azeez

Voline Ogutu (Kenya)

Voline is an african painter, producer, award winning screenwriter and director. She has written for several international and local TV series.

She wrote a thriller feature, 40 sticks, which premiered on Netflix in November 2020. In the same year she wrote, produced and directed her first horror feature film, The Witch from Chaka, which is currently in Post Production.
She wrote, produced and directed a fantasy short film, JINN which is currently in Post Production. She is part of the writing team for Australian puppet show the Professors. She is also working on new projects that are still in development: City of Juday and Dilema: a selection of the Berlinale Durban Talents 2020 Edition.

She was part of the writing team for an upcoming original Netflic animated series Mama K Team 4. She was selected to participate in the Sundance Film Festival 2022 through the International Writer’s Lab (Blackhouse Foundation).

Netflix_Voline Ogutu

Gcobisa Yako (South Africa)

Gcobisa Yako (26) born in the small city of Gqeberha, in the Eastern Cape is a writer and director. She is currently working at a production company (The Rudeboy Collective) as a creative researcher.

She has an undergraduate in BA (Psychology + Philosophy) and an honours degree in Directing and Writing (AFDA). She is currently flexing her filmmaking muscles in the commercial space. She is driven by the hunger for representation of marginalised communities and drawn towards stories that are created with intention, as well as help shift perceptions.

Gcobisa believes when people see things, it becomes easier for them to think them probable. In a world where watching things is accessible in many different ways, she thinks it important to invest in giving people insights that help change or advance their ideations, imaginations and realities. The goal is to help people think it possible to change the state of their environments and circumstances. To empower, educate and celebrate blackness in its multiple forms and existences.

Her biggest inspiration in telling stories has been her grandfather, who she grew up hearing many different folktales from. Because of him, she believes film to be one of the most valuable forms of archiving.

Loukman Ali (Uganda)

Loukman Ali is a Ugandan screenwriter and film director with a background in drawing graphic arts.

At the age of 8, he fell in love with filmmaking and started learning various skill sets by watching "How To" videos on YouTube. Although he mainly works in the marketing field directing TV commercials, he uses his spare time to create feature and short films to continuously improve his craft.

Through this self motivated training and his graphic art background, he has honed his skills as a director, editor, cinematographer and animator and looks forward to continue making genre films and eventually creating international TV series.

Netflix_Gcobisa Yako
Netflix_Loukman Ali

About UNESCO

We are the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO promotes cultural heritage, creativity and cultural diversity, with two main priorities: Africa and Gender. In 2021, UNESCO published The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth. This was the first ever complete mapping of Africa’s film and audio-visual industries. In 2022 UNESCO will convene the Global Mondiacult Conference on Cultural Policies and Development in Mexico. 

About Netflix:

Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 222 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries, feature films and mobile games across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

Media contacts:

UNESCO: Tom Burridge

Netflix: Mokgadi Seabi