Welcome to members of the film community and the audiences they serve!
This is a 45-day campaign to raise $75,000 in startup funds to support Akoroko LLC operations through March 2023. The campaign launched on September 15, 2022. As of today, there are 28 days left in the campaign.
Established by former IndieWire staff writer and Shadow and Act founder Tambay A. Obenson in May 2022, Akoroko LLC will serve as a bridge between African film and television industries and the rest of the world via consistent, robust, candid coverage that's local yet globally accessible. Its multi-pronged approach will include film journalism (criticism, conversation, original reporting, and analysis), consultation, cataloging, and curated film streaming.
This campaign aims to raise $75,000 in pre-seed funds to support operations through March 2023.
(PDF) for the budget allocation summary.
You will find below:
- An overview of the marketplace and Akoroko LLC's positioning
- A link to a detailed 16-page PDF outline of the socioeconomic environment Akoroko LLC is entering, the current problems, and Akoroko's solutions to those problems.
"African film: A Booming Industry"
The Not-So-Good News
The 2021 UNESCO report, “The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth,” reflects the vitality of African cinema, which generates $5 billion in annual revenue out of a potential $20 billion. Its economic potential remains largely untapped, with the film industry continuing to be “structurally underfunded, underdeveloped and undervalued.”
The Good News
A fundamental shift in the technical, financial and institutional infrastructures that organize film production is underway. The widespread use of new technologies, the affordability of digital film equipment, new investment, and the rise of online platforms enable a new generation of African film professionals.
Media and technology companies, especially those in the West, are beginning to realize Africa's potential: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Google, and Facebook, to name a few.
A residual effect is that local mass media companies like Multichoice are ramping up investments in the face of increased outside competition.
Akoroko aims to respond to an anticipated expansion of the film and television sector on the African continent, facilitating global connectivity between African film professionals and the world, for which it is well positioned.
Currently, a mapping of traffic to the Akoroko website (www.akoroko.com
), and followers of the Akoroko social account looks like this: 46.4% North America; 33.8% Africa; 15.9% Europe
African film and television critics (including those based in countries outside of the continent) are vastly underrepresented in the international marketplace, even when it comes to criticism of African films.
The Akoroko platform includes a journalism component that provides bold, robust, consistent coverage from African writers in film criticism, conversation, and analysis — in written and podcast format.
Akoroko maintains an up-to-date database of African feature films in development. This will help track unreleased feature projects at every stage of production: scripting, financing, pre-production, principal photography, post-production, festival play, etc.
The database currently includes over 100 projects meeting the criteria.
A curated database version listing 50 of the strongest prospects will be available.
Marketing and awareness of and access to African films are minimal. Distributors generally ignore African films, especially in the United States, which is Akoroko’s largest market.
The Akoroko platform will include a deeply curated streaming service featuring African films, classic to contemporary, accessible globally (rights-permitting per film).
The future is promising, with over 150 African features in active development, more than ever at any given time.
Founder Tambay A. Obenson’s experience in the African film space continues to be sought by industry professionals worldwide, for whom a bridge has been elusive.
Additionally, social media engagement with our target markets has surpassed expectations. Contemporary African films are highlighted daily, educating followers via short documentaries, contextual essays, analysis, original reporting, and more.
The Akoroko Twitter account has doubled its follower count each of the three months it’s been active.
Followers are diverse and global — journalists, programmers, curators, filmmakers, scholars, actors, and more, including blue-check luminaries like Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) chief Cameron Bailey, African American multi-hyphenate, multidisciplinary artist Saul Williams, and Zimbabwean author and scholar Zoé Samudzi, among many others.
Conversations have been provocative and insightful, some of them going viral. Partnerships are developing. And every major media company in the space is fully aware of Akoroko's presence, readily providing access to film and television screeners, talent, and executives when requested.
TIFF International Programmer, Nataleah Hunter-Young, on how she believes Akoroko can have an impact on the African cinema landscape.
Tanzanian American filmmaker Ekwa Msangi, whose feature debut FAREWELL AMOR was selected by @Criterion — rare for a debut — contextualizes the space Akoroko is entering, and its potential impact.
South Africa-based Nigerian filmmaker Akin Omotoso, creator of Netflix's latest South African series #THEBRAVEONES, speaks on the impact Akoroko is already having.
Ethiopian American producer, writer, curator Mehret Mandefro, Realness Institute, speaks to whether the world is ready for an unapologetically African perspective in storytelling.
Nigerian Journalist, founder of the trailblazing Inside Nollywood, Anita Eboigbe, on breaking Nollywood's culture of silence, and elevating the level of public discourse.
Tanzanian writer/director Amil Shivji, whose "Vuta N'Kuvute" ("Tug of War") is Tanzania's second-ever entry for Best International Feature Film Academy Award consideration, spoke to Akoroko about his African cinema journey.
South African producer Steven Markovitz of Big World Cinema — producers of acclaimed titles including "Rafiki" and "Tug of War" — on African filmmakers not losing their voices in the face of growing foreign interest and investment in the continent.
Meet the Team: Part II — More on why Akoroko is such a timely response to the current expansion of the African film industry!
Tambay A. Obenson
Born in Nigeria, spreading his formative years across three countries — Nigeria, Cameroon, and the United States — Tambay Obenson has been a thought leader and one of the most respected voices in the global Black cinema space for 15 years.
It’s a journey that began with Shadow & Act (which he founded in 2009 and sold to Blavity in 2017) and continued with Indiewire, where he covered Black film and television from a global perspective from 2018 to 2022.
Tambay co-founded the joint venture Shadow and Act Films LLC in 2010, a film financing and production initiative that backed bold filmmaking by Black filmmakers.
Tambay also co-founded and curated the New Voices in Black Cinema Film Festival, which ran for nine years at BAMCinematek in Brooklyn, NY.
He’s been invited to speak at academic institutions, including Yale University and The New School, moderate and participate in numerous panel discussions, and lend his expertise as a consultant.
In a career that spans 15 years, Tambay has become a trusted and influential voice in cinema of Africa and its global diaspora.
He's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Farima Kone Kito
Originally from Burkina Faso, Farima grew up in Dakar, Senegal — a designated global hub for modern and contemporary arts on the African continent — where she was exposed to and developed a strong passion for the visual arts, fashion, and African cinema.
Influenced by her experience as a Black and Muslim immigrant with a background in African and African American Studies, Media Studies, and the Performing Arts, Farima has successfully combined and funneled her collective experiences into work as a curator and culture critic. Her reflections are often filtered through concepts of identity reconstruction in a post-colonial West African context.
A member of the African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) team, and its flagship program, the prestigious New York African Film Festival (NYAFF), Farima joined Akoroko in July 2022 as a project manager. She works with Tambay Obenson in developing and implementing the company’s various business strategies.
She is currently based in New York City.
Tambay Obenson Launches Fundraiser for African Film and Television Platform Akoroko, INDIEWIRE
Africa is overflowing with creativity, and its untapped filmmaking landscape is one of the world's richest and most diverse areas. It has the potential to disrupt stereotypes and economies while cementing identity within communities.
This is the environment that is Akoroko’s entry point. Please join us!
For a deep dive into the environment and Akoroko's overall strategy, download a 16-page PDF outline detailing the current climate for African film and television and how Akoroko will disrupt the landscape.