Al Jazeera English launches Africa Direct, a unique series of fascinating and immersive short documentaries created and directed by all-African filmmaking talent. These slice-of-life stories revolve around the main character who articulates their narrative without reporters or other third parties. Simply put, Africa Direct is a collection of African stories told by African storytellers about African lives for audiences across the continent and around the world.
The films present nuanced and complicated perspectives of this diverse and multifaceted continent by providing an authentic insight into a spectrum of ordinary and extraordinary African lives. Moreover, the stories give African storytellers a voice, which has often been silenced or overpowered by outsider mediation. Around 30 short documentaries are curated into half-hour episodes for the series. Al Jazeera English will air the first six-and-a-half-hour tranche, which will feature the first 14 short films from 11 countries from 30 November 2021 to 4 January 2022.
These character-driven films feature traditional and modern, tragic and flashy, characters surviving or prospering, impoverished or strong. Yet, at the core of each film is a story that makes us think, feel, and connect.
“In terms of perceptions of places, people, and their power, documentary storytelling is a tremendously important medium,” says Ingrid Falck, Manager of Documentaries at Al Jazeera English, who conceived and commissioned the series. “We have long advocated for those who know their stories best to own them in the media and claim their storytelling domain. We have huge audiences across the continent and present great Africa-focused content, but the western lens still casts a vast shadow over Africa. Africa Direct is a celebration of African documentary talent and local stories. I’m grateful to the outstanding pan-African teams and filmmakers who created these stunning, engaging, and thought-provoking short documentaries for our global audience,” Falck added.
For this project, Al Jazeera collaborated with Big World Cinema and is entirely set in Africa. Executive Producer Steven Markovitz (SA), Series Producers Angele Diabang (Senegal), and Brian Tilly (SA) make up the team.
“We received over 300 proposals from 31 countries,” says Big World Cinema Executive Producer Steven Markovitz. “Reading and assessing the diverse range of stories from around the continent was an incredible experience.”