Addis Ababa University (AAU) has started offering a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in Film Production five years ago, the first and only graduate degree program in the country. This program has been established to create highly trained filmmakers with a strong foundation for understanding cinema and its relation to culture, history, technology, and aesthetics. The primary mission of this film program is to provide excellent graduate teaching in the study of cinema and the practice of creating films on the principle that the study of cinema and the artistic production of moving images complement one another.
AAU's film program moreover advances the transnational understanding of cinema by organizing cultural-exchange trips to local and international film festivals. On August 30, 2018, AAU's film department has organized a cultural exchange trip to the 75th Venice International Film Festival in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute and Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED). A team of five graduate film students led by their instructor has traveled to Venice, Italy with five film projects to participate at the film festival. The film projects were selected out of 12 story ideas developed at AAU's film department. Prior to the trip, the five projects were presented to potential producers and financiers during the first-ever public "Pitch Day" on June 30, 2018, in Addis Ababa, also organized by the film department.
The students were able to participate in special meetings in Venice with important film professionals during the Festival. The students were given the opportunity to present their pitch packages that include story, visual, and sound structure of their film projects to producers and agents to compete in the wider international film market. In addition, the students had the chance to watch all films in competition at the festival, especially those with cultural differences related to themes. Their instructor has also served as a jury member of the UNIMED award to select a film that better represents Cultural Diversities.
The cultural exchange trip to the 75th Venice International Film Festival has given the opportunity to introduce the film students to the international film community, to network with other filmmakers, and to meet producers who were interested in collaborating with them.
Moreover, it encouraged the students to participate in other film festivals throughout the world. They have also improved their skills in pitching their film projects to producers and distributors and compete in the wider international film market.
As a result of the success of this initiative, acclaimed filmmakers and scholars from Italy, including Prof. Antonio Falduto and Jacopo Quadri, have visited the film department at Addis Ababa University to give workshops to our graduate film students. Also, film stories pitched by AAU's film students at the festival have inspired Italian producers to produce films with Italo-Ethiopian story lines which will strengthen cultural ties between Ethiopia and Italy. Through the implementation of this initiative, cultural exchanges and mobility of artists have been increased.
Above all, the trip has supported AAU's vision in making its film program the best film program in Africa, where the next generation of African filmmakers comes to study cinema and the practice of making films.
|Name of partner||Type of entity|
Addis Ababa University Department of Film
Italian Cultural Institute