Nairobi News


Netflix picks Voline Ogutu’s romance crime thriller ‘Dilemma’

International streamer Netflix has picked Kenya’s Voline Ogutu’s romance crime thriller Dilemma.

Ms Ogutu, who is a self-taught film creator, has written several M-Net TV series, including Sumu La Penzi, Jane and Abel, Njoro Wa Uba, Varshita, How To Find a Husband and City of Judah was the 2022 Episodic Alumnus.

She was one of the few Africans selected to participate in the 2022 Episodic Lab programme in South Africa.

Despite never attending a film school, Ms. Ogutu won Sh11.5 million ($100,000) in March 2022 for the Netflix Short Film Competition.

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Dubbed “African Folktales, Re-imagined,” organizers of the competition launched in October 2021 were looking for emerging filmmakers in Sub-Sahara. It attracted more than 2,000 applications.

Reacting to her story idea being selected for further development, Ms Ogutu, who has now started to turn her attention to the next steps, which include Writers’ Room planning, said, “I am honoured and grateful to be part of this rare opportunity.

To those who dream of telling African stories on the global stage, it is truly within your reach. Thank you to the Netflix and Realness team who were part of this process.”

She was one of the few Africans selected to participate in the 2022 Episodic Lab programme in South Africa.

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In 2017, she was awarded the best film director. She directed the movie Seed, a fantasy drama about money, greed, and death. She was the only female in the category.

“It’s a good time for female directors to come out, the field is level. We are winning,” she said at the time.

The Realness Institute, in partnership with Netflix, has opened calls for submissions to its 2023 Episodic Lab and Development Executive Traineeship (DET) programmes which will take place from April 30 to July 30 2023.

The Lab and Traineeship aim to support screenwriters and mid-career industry professionals from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa who are seeking opportunities to develop their original story ideas in any genre and are looking to enhance their skills as story consultants, respectively.

Bringing together a wealth of creative talent from Africa in these programmes, Realness Institute offers the Episodic Lab participants the opportunity to pitch their incubated stories to Netflix executives at the end of the programme.

It also offers DET participants a deeper understanding of the story development process, and exposure to a more nuanced approach in support of writers while simultaneously holding writers accountable for their creative work.

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To support the participants to focus on their involvement in the programmes, Realness Institute will provide a monthly stipend of Sh220,000 for the duration of the Lab and traineeship to help cover their living expenses.

“As filmmakers, we understand how difficult it is to find time and space to focus on our creative processes: to unpack stories, mull over and bounce ideas off others, benchmark ourselves against our peers as we hustle to make films, and pitch and search for funding and finance,” says Mehret Mandefro, Director of Development and Partnerships, Realness Institute.

“In understanding this landscape, we are delighted that Netflix has once again partnered with us, to bring these two symbiotic programmes for African filmmakers in our joint quest to grow African stories and content on the continent.”

While there is no guarantee that any proposal will be developed further by Netflix, it is a unique opportunity to interface at key milestones with Netflix executives and be allowed to pitch.

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