After five years in development, DOC-A (Documentary Africa) has officially launched with Mohamed Saïd Ouma as the organization’s Executive Director.
According to a statement issue December 6 2020, DOC-A is conceived as a long term, integrated organization which aims at supporting the African documentary film industry through interconnected initiatives in storytelling development and content creation, knowledge-building and sharing, mentored fellowships and training labs, phased production support, distribution and audience-building across the continent.
“DOC-A is a unique initiative,” commented Saïd Ouma. “The African documentary ecosystem is very fragile as it stands, so by focusing on partnership and collaboration, we aim at solidifying existing structures. It has a holistic, humble and integrated vision. Past experiences have shown us that for a successful Pan African project, we need a regional approach; therefore, the initial focus is on the West Africa and East Africa regions.”
“We have agreed on two partnerships with two successful regional initiatives, namely DOCUBOX the East African documentary film fund, and the OUAGA FILM LAB based in Burkina Faso,” he continued. “DOC-A will grow alongside our present partners and future ones. Although DOC-A has a clear vision and imagined trajectory, it is also flexible, and can be changed and adapted where necessary.”
Advisory Board Member Steven Markovitz added, “Ultimately, DOC-A is original, practical and visionary in its approach: by supporting creativity, it also aims to generate employment through the phased development of a self-sustaining, dynamic and integrated ecosystem, able to autonomously reproduce and multiply itself. We all wanted to support a long-term objective to create an authentic documentary film culture in Africa, and to ensure a sustained and strengthened African presence and point-of-view in the global media and market.”
The statement further stressed how DOC-A is designed to transform over the course of its lifespan, with the goal of being absorbed into the self-sustaining ecosystem it helps to generate, nourish and produce, and is a proactive response to the needs expressed by the documentary film community across the 54 countries of Africa, as described in an extensive research report conducted by nine members of the African filmmaking community and funded by the Bertha Foundation.
By complementing rather than competing with or replicating existing successful initiatives, DOC-A aims to cultivate and sustain an ecosystem of documentary film on the continent, connect it to new audiences, create a network of professional filmmakers, and catalyze action through training, film project support, distribution, audience development and advocacy, the statement continued.
Exec Director Mohamed Saïd Ouma brings years of experience in the community as a film festival director, cultural operator and filmmaker himself. A founding member of the Indian Ocean Cinema Federation, and an active member of FEPACI (the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers) and The African Heritage Project (aimed at restoring 50 African films of major historic, cultural and artistic significance) Saïd Ouma has helped to cultivate emerging filmmaking scenes across the continent as well as championing the emergence of perspectival, auteur-driven cinematic documentary.
Guided by a rotating Executive Board that includes experienced producers such as Salem Brahimi (Algeria / France), Judy Kibinge (Kenya), Steven Markovitz (South Africa), Joslyn Barnes (USA), who also edited the initial research report, and an evolving Advisory Board that includes award-winning filmmaker and AMPAS member Jean-Marie Teno (Cameroun), Ali Essafi (Morocco), Pedro Pimenta (Moçambique), Jakob Kirstein Høgel (Denmark), Rebecca Lichtenfeld (USA), and academic Alessandro Jedlowski (Italy), Saïd Ouma will run DOC-A out of Nairobi with coordinators planned across seven regions of the continent. Major funding for DOC-A was provided by the Ford Foundation.