Realness Institute is accepting submissions for this year’s AuthenticA Series Lab cohort – a screenwriters’ development programme.

The programme, in partnership with the StoryBoard Collective, a Swiss philanthropic organisation supporting transformative storytelling for social change, announced on Tuesday.

The AuthenticA Series Lab, now in its third edition and designed for African screenwriters, has proved to be a valuable springboard for African storytellers to elevate their craft and amplify authentic voices from the continent.

“Our goal is simple: to provide a nurturing environment where writers can hone their skills, infuse their stories with genuine perspectives, and challenge outdated narratives about Africa,” says Selina Ukwuoma, AuthenticA Story Expert and Co-Designer.

The Lab allows screenwriters to immerse themselves in a community of like-minded peers, free from usual distractions, and become fully focused on bringing their ideas to life.

Four screenwriters will be selected for the programme which will be conducted both online and in-person from 8 September 2024 to 3 April 2025.

The screenwriters, using their already existing story concepts, will work with industry experts in a programme that includes mentorship, seminars, workshops, as well as networking.

The Lab culminates in their attendance at Series Mania, in March 2025, in Lille France, the largest co-production series festival in Europe.

Once there, they will pitch their projects to decision-makers, commissioners, broadcasters, and producers.

The writers all retain the rights to their projects.

Joining Selina Ukwuoma as the programme’s mentor is Mehret Mandefro.

“AuthenticA provides the most valuable gift you can give a writer, the time, space, and resources to lean into their voice and discover what it is they want to say,” says Mehret Mandefro, Creative Producer for the AuthenticA Series Lab.

Elias Ribeiro, Co-Designer and Director of the programme, will provide the cohort with valuable insights on market readiness, along with industry expert guest speakers.

Both the 2022 and 2023 cohorts of the Lab pitched their stories at Series Mania where there was significant interest in their series projects with an attendance of over 150 people per edition, as well as online delegates.

The phenomenal success of the inaugural edition garnered rave reviews from industry experts and sparked lucrative deals with investors for all the 2022 projects now aligned to producers for further development.

Additionally, the Canada Media Fund has joined the Lab in a partnership that will support the participation of one African-Canadian writer in the programme.

“The Canada Media Fund is thrilled to grow our partnership with Realness Institute by supporting the AuthenticA Series Lab,” says Jessica Lea Fleming, Director of Growth & Inclusion at the CMF.

“This professional development program is an incredible opportunity for participants to develop original, episodic stories that speak to the many perspectives and experiences of African and African-diasporic communities.”

Deadline for applications is June 7, 2024, at 16h00 SAST (South African Standard Time).

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