South African pitch champion conquers an enthusiastic m:brane forum
by Jan Lumholdt
- The animation project Lula’s Gift from the Ocean won the big pitch prize at a smooth edition of the industry gathering for youth media, which ended Thursday afternoon
The phrase “good to the last drop” came to mind when the pitching sessions at the 17th m:brane film financing forum, held in the Malmö town hall on 15 and 16 March, came to an end on Thursday afternoon, as tables were folded and lights went down. Close to 300 meetings were counted, and many of the 25 presented projects were received with curiosity and enthusiasm by keen decision makers. As is m:brane tradition, a confidential expert jury was in place, scrutinising the pitches themselves rather than the projects in order to award the best presentation, dubbed a “noble art” in these premises.
The final honours, including a €2,500 cash prize, was conquered by the versatile South African writer-director-producer Yolanda K. Mogatusi (1000 Hugs Films, South Africa), who has already impressed in both Annecy and at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival with the multiplatform project Lula’s Gift from the Ocean. The jury, consisting of producer Mette-Ann Schepelern (Magma Film, Copenhagen), Marney Malabar (Malabar Creative Consulting, Toronto) and Felix Vanginderhuysen (ECFA, Brussels) were taken in by a heartfelt presentation “catching the attention of the whole room – including the jury” as written in the jury’s motivation statement. Mogatusi’s animation project, featuring an initially shy little heroine who turns her fear of the ocean into a kaleidoscopic adventure, co-starring some strikingly illustrious fish creatures, is nominally aimed at preschool children but may well intrigue the additional parent. The champion herself, who gave birth to the idea just one year ago, envisions a completion in a foreseeable future, in book, TV series and game form.
Additional m:brane awards went to the Faroe Islands production company Kykmyndir, who received the Kids Kino Industry Selection for their project The Unreal World of Alda, while the EAVE Scholarship was granted to producer Natalya Sarch of Differ Media, Norway, who also gained positive attention for her own pitch at the forum, the Norwegian-Kenyan series project With Grace. “I can see at least 70% of these projects making it into finished products,” assessed m:brane director Lennart Ström. “And that’s in light of the pandemic, which slowed things down, so a modest estimate.” Refreshingly un-pandemic, the 2023 edition went smoothly, Ström was pleased to report, praising team and attending delegates alike, not least the young experts called in to grill and drill the older states persons on the hows and whats of worthwhile content – “an ongoing process really heightened this year with the introduction of our think tank, gathering some fantastic participants from different fields of research and audiovisual industry”, glowed Ström, who promises more of the same but all brand new for the 18th edition, to be held from 12 to 14 March 2024.
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