Cannes: goes Beta

Technology & Convergence

Dakar-based ‘’VOD - 100% AFRICA’’ portal – is bringing 400 films to a worldwide audience. As planned by its director (see Balancing Act interview by Sylvain Béletre last month),, the VOD (Video On Demand) platform with films from and about Africa went online with a private beta version on 9th May 2011, heading for a public opening next June 2011.

The legal rent-or-download-for-money website with prices ranging from €2 to 5 per film for a worldwide audience has a potential reach of some 50 M viewers today (diaspora & Northern Afro-lovers) is expected to burst by 2013-14 when most African populations will gain access to broadband (mobile) internet. ‘s mission is to distribute films from Africa to the world, and grant fair revenues to African film rights owners, currently deprived of a large paying audience.

For the time being, already supports 400 hours of programmes and covers all genres and all African countries, with a mix of top titles and emerging talents. Examples include:

-Award-winning feature films including all the comedies by Ivory-Coast genius Henri Duparc, along with the best South-African art house titles;

-« Africa new generation » movies, shot fast and/or shouting loud: action, politics, cartoon... from 19 countries of which : Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Senegal, plus the diaspora (Caribbean, North America, Europe);

-A hundred titles by the rising masters of African documentary : Rehad Desai (South Africa), Osvalde Lewat (Cameroon), Sani Magori (Niger), Philippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast), Eléonore Yameogo (Burkina Faso) ... or shot in Africa by Europeans : France’s Zaradoc and ICTV-Solferino, Belgium’s Thierry Michel (Mobutu King of Zaire) or Eklektik (Kafka In Congo, Kongo...), etc.

-last but not least, soap operas, a true must for the diasporas: some of the best French speaking titles (including hilarious 2-minute ShortComs) and some world-standard TV-hits from Ghana and South Africa, such as “Mating Game”, “Secrets”, “Taxi Driver” or “games people play”. brings rights holders an unprecedented, service-oriented, fair approach, based on freedom (contracts are non-exclusive), transparency (sales statements are readable online), safety (film files are DRM encrypted, with the PlaySmart technology by OnlineLib, Germany). And ‘shared technology: producers will be able to set up their website that will embed their own VOD-store, so that they can market their titles directly to their fans community, keeping up to 65% of revenues. Online demo here: was developed thanks to a strong funding (0,5 m€) from ACP Films, the ACP-EU co-operation programme for the support of the ACP (Africa Caribbean Pacific) film sector. It gained several other supporters (French Ministry of Culture & CNC, foundations Stichting Doen from The Netherlands and Lettera27 / WikiAfrica from Italy), sharp talent-scouts (African Film Festivals of Tarifa, Spain and Verona, Italy), and field correspondants in 12 African countries : Goethe Institute, Instituts français, Spanish Embassies... was at Cannes Film Festival, May 11-21 – “Cinémas du Sud” Pavillion.