Magazine article Variety

African Hub Grows Its Business in Berlin

Magazine article Variety

African Hub Grows Its Business in Berlin

Article excerpt

Building on the success of its inaugural edition last year, the Berlinale Africa Hub will return to its location next to the historic Martin Gropius Bau to offer a glimpse of trends in the dynamic and fast-growing pan-African film market.

With a focus on virtual reality and 360-degree storytelling, streaming platforms and digital disruptors, the initiative hopes to "make African innovation more visible within the portfolio of the European Film Market," according to EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol.

By exploring how leapfrog technologies are transforming the business of filmmaking and distribution on the continent, the Hub will highlight the ways that local innovators are looking to cash in on the still largely untapped African market.

"The Berlinale Africa Hub is a place where we'd like to look into the future and say, 'This is not about copy-pasting existing structures [from other] parts of the world,'" says Knol. "I think audience potential in Africa is absolutely there ... [but] to reach those audiences, a different approach" is needed.

The Africa Hub is an initiative of the EFM, in cooperation with the World Cinema Fund, Berlinale Talents - and its sister program, Talents Durban - and the Berlinale Co-Production Market, with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office.

This year the hub is expanding its footprint in Gropius Park, with organizers adding pop-up offices to underscore their commitment to doing business during the event, which runs from Feb. 16-21.

"It's easy to say it's a gathering point for everyone interested in Africa," Knol says, but "the real aim of the Africa Hub is to make space within the African market for sales, financing, distribution."

Along with dozens of independent producers, the hub will welcome a host of companies and institutions dedicated to growing the African film sector, including the Durban FilmMart, the Namibia Film Commission, the Burundi Film Center, Rwanda's Kwetu Film Institute, Afridocs, Docubox, Congo's Tosala Project, Kenya's Cultural Video Production, South Africa's Sisters Working in Film and Television (SWIFT), Canada's Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group, Cologne-based sales agent Rushlake Media, Francebased urban music net TRACE, the pan-African distribution network DIFFA, Digital Lab Africa, and organizers of the Discop TV content market. …

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