The grant for June goes to Christopher Redmond, the co-founder of a not-for-profit school in East Africa called the Burundi Film Center (BFC). The project was started in 2007 with a small group of volunteer filmmakers who brought our own equipment and trained youth, aged 18-25, the basics of film history, theory and production. They trained 36 students and the first 5 short films played in over 50 international film festivals around the world.
In 2009, the BFC produced a 22-minute documentary called Home Free about Burundian refugees who have been living in Tanzania for 36 years and are only now returning home. That film is now used as a training tool at UN agencies around the world, as well as embassies and schools. They have recently held more workshops and produced more films, including their first documentary workshop in 2010 and their first animation workshop is scheduled for September 2011.
They’ve been able to accomplish all this without any operational funding at all. The only money they receive is through individual donations from friends and family. Our teachers either pay their own plane tickets, or find individual grants to travel if they are lucky. Despite their financial difficulties, they’ve achieved some great successes – including having a number of their students work on the 2011 Academy-Award nominated short film Na Wewe. Christopher was personally selected as one of Canada’s Top 50 Champions of Change on CBC and even held a TEDx Talk in Ottawa a few months ago.
Christopher will use the Awesome Grant to empower some of their near 100 graduated students to produce more awesome films and will match our contribution to create 4 separate grants of $500 for the students to apply for. That is certainly awesome, sir!
Funded by Ottawa, ON (June 2011)