Making of an Independent low budget film

By Newton I. Aduaka

Friday 28th of March from 10:00 – 12:00.    Location: Alliance Ethio-française
The award winning Nigerian film Director Newton Aduaka will talk about his experience of making an independent low budget film. Newton says; "After my second feature film Ezra and while in development on what was supposed to be my third feature, I decided to return to my origins as an independent film-maker. The result was "One Man's Show". Shot in 10 days with a very small cast and crew made up of friends, a 21 page screenplay, 4 weeks of improvisations and rehearsals and 6 months of editing and sound post-production, OMS premiered at Fespaco 2013."
With Ezra, in 2007, Newton I. Aduaka won the Etalon d’or de Yennenga (the golden stallion of Yennenga), the highest honour for an African Film Maker at the festival of pan-African cinema, FESPACO. Ezra premiered in the World cinema competition at the Sundance film festival, was nominated for the Humanitas Prize and screened in a special section of the Critics’ Week in Cannes. Ezra has appeared in numerous film festivals and events across the world and has been awarded 28 times including 6 Grand Jury prizes and a Federation of International Film Critics (Fipresci) award. Ezra has been named as one of the most important anti-war films ever made. It was awarded the United Nation’s prize for Peace and Tolerance. In 2001 Newton’s debut feature film Rage, became the first wholly independently financed film by a black filmmaker in the history of British cinema to be released nation-wide. In the same year he was a recipient of the Carlton television multicultural award in the UK for Rage, which was acquired by Arte France and MNET.
In 2002 Newton was invited as Filmmaker in Residence by Festival de Cannes’ Cinéfondation in Paris. In the same year Aduaka was commissioned by the Society of French Directors (SRF) and the Cannes film festival’s Quinzaine des Réalisateurs to make a short film on “Cinema and Globalization”.  The result was Funeral - 2002.
In 2004 his short film Aïcha premiered in official competition at the Mostra de Venise. In 2004 and 2010 the organization, Global Dialogue, commissioned Aduaka to direct four short films on AIDS awareness. These films have been translated into numerous African languages, English, French and Portuguese and are effectively used as educational tools across the world. In 2007 Aduaka was invited to hold a Master class at the Cannes Film Festival. In the summer of 2007 Aduaka was invited to speak at TED, “Africa: The Next Chapter”, held in Arusha. His speech is available online at In 2008 the Berlin film festival invited him, as an expert, to speak on aesthetics of Cinema at the Berlinale Talent Campus.
Aduaka’s third feature film, One Man’s Show, premiered at Fespaco 2013, winning the Critics’ Prize. The film had its American premier at the Mill Valley Film festival. The British newspaper “The Independent” named Aduaka as one of the 50 best living African artists. Aduaka is currently residing in Paris.


Writing Short Film & Directing Feature Film

By Solomon Bekele Weya

Writing short film: Thursday  27th of March 2014 from 10:00 – 12:00.    Location: Alliance Ethio-française
Directing Feature film: Saturday  29th of March 2014 from 10:00 - 12:00.   Location: Italian Cultural Institute

The renowned Ethiopian Film Director Solomon Bekele Weya will share his vast knowledge and experience at the CONIFF workshop of 2014. Solomon Beleke will focus on conceptual and technical tools of writing short film and directing feature film. 
Solomon Bekele Weya is the director of one of the Ethiopian Classic films, “Aster”. Based on his original screenplay, “Aster” (35 mm, colour), a feature film produced by the Ethiopian Film Corporation was premiered in Addis Ababa in 1992, and became a big success. Solomon Bekele served as FEPACI Representative in Western Europe from 1974 to 1976. In 1993, he has been elected during the FEPACI congress in Ouagadougou as the Regional Secretary of FEPACI for Eastern Africa and stayed in the position until 1996.
Solomon is also Co-founder and Co-owner of the Cosmos Audiovisual Training and Research Institute Established in 2001. He taught Script Writing and Directing at the institute until 2003. Further he gave various directing workshops at School of Journalism and the school of Theatrical Arts of the Addis Ababa University.
In addition to Aster Solomon Bekele directed a number of short films and documentaries that were screened at international festivals around the world. FESPACO/ Ouagadougou, San Francisco IFF/USA, Teheran IFF/Iran, FIFEF/France, Dokfilmwoche/Leipzig, Rotterdam IFF, Moscow IFF, JCC/Tunisia, Film Week of Bordighera and Rome, SAFF/Harare, Berlinale and Innsbruck/ Australia are among festivals where Solomon’s films were screened. Solomon Bekele served as a jury member at numerous international film festivals including FESPACO/ Ouagadougou, FIFEFL/ Belgium, Dokwoche and Film Woche/ Germany, SAFF/ Zimbabwe, Rencontre du cinema/ Morocco, Karlovivary IFF/ Czechoslovakia and Colors of the Nile International Film festival/Ethiopia.
Solomon Bekele studied filmmaking at Hadeko-film, Neuss, Trans-Tel/Deutsche welle, Kőln, Cowa-Film, Cologne (Germany) and Acadamie de Paris, Ecole National de Cinematographie Louis Lumierc of France. He also studied Literature ate University de Paris VII.


Hands on Documentary Filmmaking

By Hamid Benamra

Tues/Wednes/Thurs 25/26/27th of  March 2014 from 10:00 – 12:00.    Location: Italian Cultural Institute
Documentary film making is perhaps the most powerful medium of bringing out issues that matter most. Either by capturing real events or retracing comfortably forgotten or ignored issues of the past and the present; professionally made documentary films play significant roles of informing, exposing and opinion forming.   This year CONIFF will host a hand on documentary filmmaking training that will be given by the renowned Algerian filmmaker Hamid Benamra.  Supplemented by theoretical backing and practical guidance of Hamid Benamra, the trainees will produce short documentaries by the end of the workshop.
With two passports and two languages, Hamid Benamra lived his first 23 years in Algeria, then moved to France. After studying philosophy in Algiers, he moved to Paris with a French scholarship to improve his cinematographic knowledge to l’ESEC and then to École des Hautes Études – history and cinema - with Marc Ferro.
At 5 years old he discovered fascination in cinema. At 20 he would already have made 4 fictions, some of them won an award in Algiers, Brussels and at the FESPACO. In 1982 Mouny Berrah compared him to Godard and wrote, in an article in les 2 écrans N°50 : "with ridiculous means, with an amazing sense of cinema, Abdelhamid Benamra questions the narrow adjective in wich is confined a certain type of filmmaking, genuine cinema." (translated)
From that time, the camera never let go of him and shoots meetings and individuals whose art, humanity and commitment touch him. 30 years later, 2012 marks a turning point with Pieces of lives, pieces of dreams, a tribute to authentic revolutionaries, Miriam Makeba, Angela Davis, Henri Alleg, Abraham Serfati and so many others. His first feature film, a documentary, was in official competition at FESPACO 2013 and Carthage Film Festival 2012. It also won the Audience Choice Awarded in Algiers. Samir Ardjoum, in El Watan Project, calls Hamid Benamra an "Alien" who made a "film UFO". The film had to wait 1 year and to be turned down 50 times before a Western festival – Lumière d'Afrique 2013 (France) - had the cinematic honesty to select it.
Hamid Benamra concluded the year 2013 by giving Tunisia the clip Babour Zammar of the singer Abir Nasraoui, broadcasted on Nessma TV and Hannibal TV.
The heart between two cultures, Hamid Benamra writes in Arabic and French and fuels his creation with various activities such as painting, Karate, traditional cuisine and haute couture. In 2013 he... came back to fiction with 2 feature films in progress.


Film Critisism & Curating

By June Givanni

Saturday 29th of March 2014 from 10:00 – 12:00.    Location: Alliance Ethio-française
The film criticism workshop at the inaugural edition of CONIFF by Donald Omope, editor of African Screens was highly rated for the useful insight it provided for film journalist, directors and independent producers. With the bigger objective of nurturing a balanced and professional film critique society in Ethiopia CONIFF will host another film criticism workshop this year. The workshop will be given by June Givanni, a film curator and programmer who is very well placed in the African film industry.   June Givanni is also the artistic director of Colours of the Nile International Film Festival. June will talk about presenting and writing about films as well as archival compilation.
June Givanniis a film curator, archivist and international consultant in African and African Diaspora cinema, leading in this sector for more than 30 years. She worked with the British Film Institute where she ran the African and Caribbean Film Unit, and published the Black Film Bulletin and the book Symbolic Narratives/African Cinema; the Toronto International Film Festival, where she programmed ‘Planet  Africa’; and as an expert in the field generally.

She has worked with film development schemes in the UK; and in production in the UK and abroad. She is an advisor on Focus Features ‘Africa First’ shorts programme; and works with numerous international film festivals and juries, including the AMAA film awards and the AFRIFF film festival, Nigeria; the International Film Festival of Kerala, India; MOMI New York; Africa In The Picture Amsterdam; Colours of the Nile Film Festival, Addis Abeba.

June is currently developing an archive based on collections from her 3 decades working in this field.


Festival Organization and Management

By Dr. Lizelle Bisschoff

Friday 28th of March from 10:00 – 12:00.    Location: Alliance Ethio-française
Sunday 30th of  March 2014 from 10:00 – 12:00.   Location: Alliance Ethio-française
Drawing on her experience as founder and director of the Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival in Scotland, Dr. Lizelle Bisschoff will discuss African film festival curation, organisation and management in this interactive workshop. Discussion topics will include:
-    Fundraising for a film festival
-    How to identify and grow audiences
-    Selecting films that match audience expectations
-    Sourcing films and working with distributors
-    Organising events to complement film screenings
-    Publicising and marketing a film festival
-    Developing partnerships
-    Monitoring and evaluating success  
The workshop will be accompanied by screenings of African short films and short videos about Africa in Motion. Hands-on activities and interactive discussions will present opportunities to participants to share and learn.
Dr. Lizelle Bisschoff is a researcher in African film and the founder of the Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival, an annual African film festival taking place in Scotland, founded in 2006 ( Lizelle holds a PhD in African cinema from the University of Stirling in Scotland, in which she researched the role of women in African film. She has published widely on sub-Saharan African cinema and regularly attends African film festivals as speaker and jury member. After completing a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship on the emerging East African film industries at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies, she is currently a Research Fellow in Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow, where she teaches African cinema and continues her research on the African film industries.


Cinema for Peace and Dialogue

Designed and facilitated by Taghreed Elsanhouri

Tuesday 25th of March 2014 from 10:00 – 12:00.    Location: Alliance Ethio-française
Much has been written recently about international broadcasters getting Africa wrong. But what are the right stories about Africa? Who is equipped to tell those stories and why do stories matter? Are the stories we are telling ourselves about ourselves in Sudan, in South Sudan, in CAR and DRC to name a few trouble spots making war or peace? How can we transform the stories about us from the inside and can we tell stories that make peace?
This workshop explores how to democratically put the tools of filmmaking and storytelling in the hands of ordinary people and communities so as to facilitate a conversation from the inside about healing and transformation.
Taghreed Elsanhouri began her career in broadcast news and entertainment television. She is now practicing as an independent filmmaker and culture and outreach development consultant. Elsanhouri is the creator and artistic director of Cultural Healing a community video and dialogue project funded by the EU and implemented in Sudan in 2010 – 2013.
Our beloved Sudan the filmmaker’s 3rd independent documentary feature world premiered at the Dubai film festival in December 2011 and won Silver Jury award at the 1st Luxor African film festival 2012, it then went to feature at the acclaimed Lines of Control Exhibition and the Johnson Museum Ithaca, New York.
Television projects include ‘Orphans of Mygoma,’ a short documentary commissioned by Aljazeera International for their ‘Witness’ documentary strand.
Her directorial debut ‘All about Darfur’ won the Award of Commendation from the American Anthropological Association in 2006 and the Chair Person’s prize at the Zanzibar International Film Festival (Ziff) 2005and was selected at numerous film festivals including the Toronto international Film Festival 2005.


Acting for the Big Screen

Susan Wanjiru and Eric Mugambi Nthiga

Sunday 30th of  March 2014 from 10:00 – 12:00.   Location: Italian Cultural Institute
In the undeveloped Ethiopian film market new acting talents rarely have the opportunity of getting leading roles in films. Directors often prefer working with well known actors in order attract audience and market. The experience exchange workshop on acting for the screen explores how beginner actors can bring their talent forward.  Building on the experience of the lead actors from the two successful Kenyan feature films ”Nairobi, Half Life” and “Something Necessary”;  Susan Wanjiru and Eric Mugambi Nthiga, the workshop will discuss on how new talents can make it to the big screen.
Sue Wanjiru is an exceptional international stage, TV and film actress. Born and bred in Nairobi, Kenya, she started acting and dancing in church plays as early as 10 years old. Her professional acting career began in 2010 after she quit her accounting job to pursue her love for acting.She joined Friends Ensemble theatre and got cast in plays like, Continental Quilt and Where Is The Bride.
In 2011, her big break was getting the lead role in the movie SOMETHING NECESSARY which premiered in Kenya in 2013, a film about a pivotal period in the life of Anne, a woman struggling to rebuild her life after the civil unrest that swept Kenya following the 2007 elections. The film, the second to be produced through a collaboration between One Fine Day Films,Germany and Ginger Ink Productions, Kenya. The star got to take the film in a theatrical release in 12 cities in Germany in February 2013. The movie is currently touring the world in film festivals.
In 2012, She got cast in four short films for a workshop training for Ginger Ink Productions: Roberta And The Deep White Moon, Intentions, The Perfect Frog and Who's Blood Is It Anyway. 2012 was a good year for the actress who also got to do a voice over for Eidolon Films, Washington Dc through Filamu Juani Film Productions in Kenya.
Mugambi Nthiga is an actor and writer, known for Nairobi Half Life (2012), Lost in Africa (2010) and Buni TV Comedy Series (2013).

Mugambi's first audience was his mother and younger sister. He played the Little Drummer Boy in a school Nativity, and he was five. He killed it.
"I believe it was the commitment to being authentic that did it," he said after the show. "From the moment I got signed to the role I asked myself, 'Am I willing to not just play the drum, but be the drum?'"
Thus began a career that has seen him on stages in Kenya and Philadelphia, and on screens across Africa, North America and (soon), the world.


Indian Ocean Short Films

By Mohamed Said-Ouma

Wednesday 28th of March from 10:00 – 12:00. Location: Alliance Ethio-française
In the Indian Ocean islands, independent film festivals are building the conditions for a new cinematography to emerge in the region. Sharing the same vision, they focus on developing audiences, training professionals, supporting productions, promoting and distributing films and opening windows to the world.

This program of short fiction films is a simple and modest testimony to the vibrant energy and creativity taking place in our region.

We travel in cinematographic landscapes that could look familiar to the Ethiopian audiences. Cinema is life, and these work attempt to evoke its beauty and cruelty; addiction and suffering in 'The encounter' (Mauritius), family ties and quest for freedom in 'Magid the Magician' (Comoros), exile and loss in 'Only dead fish follow the stream' (Reunion Islands), survival, resilience and fraternity in 'The rice kid' (Madagascar).

Please do excuse my absence, but the Festival and I had a 'Greek type of problem' but I do hope, we will meet one day and will exchange. Many thanks to June Givanni and to Abraham Haile Biru for their effort and passion in the promotion of our art form on our continent.

Enjoy the screening.
Mohamed Said-Ouma




Apply to CNIFF Workshops

To apply for the workshops please e-mail a one page motivation letter and resume to:

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or send them by mail to:

Colours of the Nile International Film festival
P.O.Box 25576 Code 100
Addis Ababa

Please mention the workshop you would like to apply for.

Participation Conditions

All workshops are free of charge! Please note that participants are expected to cover their travel expenses including their stay in Addis Ababa. The festival will facilitate booking of accommodations and provide transportation in Addis Ababa.  We are also happy to write a letter of recommendation to you to apply for funding from relevant institutions in your country.