Screenwriters are more often than not the underappreciated lot of the film industry, what with the biggest attention being paid to actors/ actresses and directors. But it is they that craft the stories that directors bring to life cinematically. Anyone whose cinematic story has been mostly stuck in their head can now take advantage of the return of the Maisha Screenwriting Labs. Maisha Film Lab will this year hold four programmes each lasting eight days in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Prospective screenwriters will be selected from a pool of applicants based on their outstanding short screenplay ideas. There are 60 scholarships up for grabs; 15 for each of the participating countries. Each of the selected participants will work with internationally renowned mentors to refine their work and broaden their horizons on the film business and the art of filmmaking. At the end of the intensive creative process, each of the 60 total participants attending the screenwriting workshops will have a vetted and refined short screenplay. One screenplay will be selected at each lab to receive a grant of $2000 (about UGX5m) to produce their films.
For the non-selected screenplays, any participant wishing to produce their own films will have access to Maisha’s equipment. The other tangible benefit for the screenwriting lab participants is the networking opportunities with their fellow filmmakers and their community. They will also interact with their mentors, who are professional filmmakers from all over the world for a whole week. With the screenwriting labs being held against the backdrop of the regional film festivals in each respective country, the lab participants will also gain exposure to films and filmmakers form all over the world and thus begin to actualize the idea of a career in filmmaking. The scheduled dates are Zanzibar from June 5-15, Kigali from July 12-22, Kampala from August 1-12 and Nairobi from October 12-22. For each regional screenwriting lab, Maisha Film Lab shall partner with an organisation from the region. From Uganda – Bayimba International Festival of the Arts, Kenya – Kenya Film Festival, Tanzania – Zanzibar International Film Festival and Rwanda – Rwanda Film Festival.
Maisha Film Lab was founded in 2004 and is the brainchild of celebrated filmmaker Mira Nair, who moves fluidly between Hollywood and Independent filmmakers. Maisha doesn’t just make films but great filmmakers. Maisha invests in an emerging film industry in East Africa with the twin goals of creating economic capacity while contributing vibrant new voices to an increasingly international film world. Maisha has provided over 500 scholarships so far, produced over 50 short films, and expanded from one annual lab into a year-round curriculum encompassing a variety of skill levels. Maisha’s main target are East-African filmmakers that have a passion for telling their stories. Through the mentors, the participants are able to receive guidance and practical training, which helps them become familiar with different aspects of film so that they can discover their niche in the film industry. Additional info is available at http://maishafilmlab.org or by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Text: MOSES SERUGO