Hermann, a young film maker with an African twist


Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre met up with Hermann Djoumessi, a 35 year old French film maker and writer of Cameroonian origin. Watch the full interviews on Balancing Act's YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Hermann+Djoumessi&aq=f

Q:What work experience do you have so far?
A: I have gained experience as a producer, assistant film maker, film maker and film production trainer. I worked in London on such things as ‘Midsummer murders’, BBC 2 ‘Newsnight’, SWAT TV, …

Q:What are your current projects?
A: I am currently working on four projects where I need further support. These all have an African element.

'Coupe' is my latest production. Directed by Osita Aneke, I produced it. It is a heartfelt documentary charting the rise of 'Coupé', a cultural movement - electronic music, dance and more now - that sprang out of Ivory Coast during the 2003-5 civil war and spread all over the world. The film should come out in 2011.

The production has attracted interests and finances from the European Union (Media - Babylon program) and won the Cine-Euro Co-Prod panel & pitching competition. It also has support from the UK Film Center and was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010. We made a basic trailer on this link: http://www.youtube.com/user/aspectratio

Right now, the film is almost complete and we need the following to be able to complete it: footage of the 2003-5 civil war in Ivory Coast. These are historical archives showing what happened on the field and what was broadcast on TV at the time. We need global rights for these archives. We also need: additional finances to complete the film;
large global distributors (TV and DVD); private sponsorship which would allow the distribution of the film at a very low price in Africa.

Q:How did you finance the film?
A: The European Union came to our help via MEDIA and the Babylon project, as well as Screen South, a UK screen agency, the British Film Council, Relocations, my own production outfit came up with 20% of the budget…F3K another production outfit set-up by Osita Aneke the director also chipped in…All in all, the total film budget is in the region of £200 000.

Q Why did you make this film?

A: We made the film in order to showcase a vibrant and modern Africa in tune with the 21st century and the digital age - Most of the music from ‘Coupé’ was made digitally- It has a positive message beamed to the Ivorian, African and world youth: You can do it, if you want it badly enough…. despite the war…despite the struggle that plagues the development of any African country. Of course, the movement veers towards a ‘bling’ culture and carries a materialist message with it, as well as creating deep barriers between generations opposing old vs. modern, acoustic vs. digital, war vs. peace. In the end, what came out of it, from a lot of people’s viewpoint was that ‘Coupé’ was the party music that silenced the guns

We’ve approached the top peoples in that field…the list reads like a who’s who of the players, movers, shakers, and true ‘Boucantiers’ from IVC and Europe: Magic System (57 million hits. Source: Google), Molare (425.000 hits. Source, Google), Lino Versace (108. 000 hit), DJ Caloudji (300.000 hits. Source: Youtube),Mariam Coulibaly (70 000 hits. Source: Youtube), Sagacite, (700.000 hits. Source:Youtube), Ronaldo (120 000 hits. Source: Youtube) Ouattara Nielben, Muluku DJ, DJ Tevecinq, JJK, Marechal, Claude Thamo, David Tayroult, MelTheodore,Tati Kenny, Soum Bill, Isabelle Anoh and many more.

To my knowledge, we are the first filmmakers to draw such a comprehensive picture of the movement and its influence, from all sides of the perspectives. It is a unique cinematic experience with stunning pictures and compelling storytelling. We were not afraid to draw on the civil war that blighted the country at the start of the 21st century, nor did we refrain from looking at the darkest aspect of the movement.

Q: What are the other productions you are working on?

Tokolosh, which is  made by “Barking Dogs productions”, it is directed by Marco Nicoletti and produced by Amos Rozenberg and co-produced by me, H. Djoumessi. The format is 16/9 HD and it is 52minutes long. We have a French broadcaster interested, ‘France O’. It should be financed by France O/CNC and the final budget is 200 000 Euros.

Set out in South Africa, this film is about a mysterious sexual beast that jumps into people's bed at night. As a true legend, this film explores broader sexuality in South Africa. Desmond Tutu will have a guest-staring role. We have not started filming as yet and the project needs finances and wide distribution.

The third project is Assange or Devil (Assange ou Demon). This is a book and script related to the Wikileaks covering Africa. This book will come out around May 2011. It will look at the people behind the website and the philosophy of its founder, Julian Assange, his team and contributors, as well as those who tried to prevent the site from succeeding. It is being written as a ‘docu-drama’ based on hard facts with fictional elements.

TUNISBOOK is a documentary about the rise of social network in Africa and mostly in Tunisia. It will look at the people behind the ‘Social Revolution’ that took place in Tunisia in the shape of a ‘How to’ guide to modern revolution.

Q: Did you study film production?

A: I have obtained a Master’s degree in Audiovisual Production from London Metropolitan University and a “Maîtrise” from IHECS / Haute Ecole Galilée (Brussels, Belgium). I have also gained professional training from EU/Media programme and from the UK Film Council on the same topics.

Q: What are your favourite African films?

A: ‘Les indigènes’, ‘Hors la Loi’ (R Boutareb), ‘District 9’, ‘Sango Malo’ (Bassek Ba Kobio),  Lumumba (R. Peck), ‘Bamako’ ‘Mobutu Roi du Zaïre’, ‘Quartier Mozart’ (Bekolo), ‘Tsotsi’, ‘Yeleen’ and many more. 'Hors la loi' has been accepted as Algeria’s submission to the Oscars 2011. We are in Jan 2011 and I hope that they will win it in the foreign film category!

Q: Where are you located?

A: Nowadays I live between London and Paris and travel around the globe to undertake my projects.

For more details, contact Hermann at:  djhermann@ hotmail.com