African Screenwriters Set Genre Shows at Series Mania (EXCLUSIVE)

Four African screenwriters will pitch stories spanning genres at the 15th edition of Series Mania in Lille, France.

Pitching this year are Kelly-Eve Koopman (South Africa) with urban fantasy “Facing the Mountain”; Moreetsi Gabang (Botswana) with crime drama “Outreach”; Tiah Beye (Senegal/Côte d’Ivoire) with comedy-drama “Brouteure” (“The Yahoo Girl”); and Wanjiru Kairu (Kenya) with political satire “Serikali Saidia!”

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The shows are under the aegis of the AuthenticA Series Lab, a training program for African episodic screenwriters from Realness Institute. The lab, now in its third year, supports the professional development of creators of serial content, designed in collaboration and presented in partnership with the StoryBoard Collective with support of Series Mania Forum, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS).

The projects presented in 2023 tasted success. “At the 2023 Series Mania, all four of the AuthenticA Series Lab writers’ stories were taken up by either broadcasters or leading production companies. We hope for the same result this year after an intense six months of mentorship and development through the lab,” said Mehret Mandefro, director of development and partnerships at the Realness Institute.

A delegation of 12 South African producers and stakeholders will participate formally for the first time at Series Mania this year, sponsored in part by the National Film and Video Foundation and IFAS. Realness fostering stronger bonds with France is particularly significant, given that the cinematographic and audiovisual co-production agreement between South Africa and France came into force in 2023.

“This unique agreement is a valuable tool for the industry, and nurtures more valuable partnerships and projects, like AuthenticA, that actively fosters co-productions, uniting French and South African creators, sharing narratives, and driving economic growth and sustainability for both industries,” said David Martinon, ambassador of France to South Africa, Lesotho and Malawi.

Meanwhile, Creation Africa, an initiative led by France’s department of foreign affairs to foster collaboration between France and Africa, has a pavilion at Series Mania’s industry event Forum, where African delegations will have a dedicated space to host their meetings. The pavilion and the AuthenticA Series Lab will host an African talents and industry breakfast March 19, which is also the day the four writers will pitch their series.

Realness AuthenticA alumnus Chantel Clark will also be in attendance as she has been selected for a scholarship to its Writers’ Campus, a Series Mania Institute initiative supported by the Realness Institute.

Francesco Capurro, director of Series Mania Forum, said: “Our collaboration with the Realness has proved invaluable in amplifying African voices on the international stage. This year marks an important milestone as Africa’s representation at the Forum reaches unprecedented levels, with a delegation attending for the first time under the Creation Africa Pavilion. We look forward to facilitating connections between African talent and international professionals at the Forum.”

Director of The StoryBoard Collective, Laure de Peretti de la Rocca, added: “The four scriptwriters have spent the last two months in residency at the StoryBoard House which allowed us to witness the quality of their work and their readiness to captivate the audience of Series Mania with the compelling narratives they have meticulously woven.”

Pictured (L-R): Kelly-Eve Koopman (South Africa), Moreetsi Gabang (Botswana), Tiah Beye (Senegal/ Côte d’Ivoire), Wanjiru Kairu (Kenya)

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