PAFF partners with YouTube to find African Storytellers

The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF), in partnership with YouTube and The Africa Narrative at USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, today announced the opening of submissions for a first-ever YouTube category at the 28th annual Pan African Film Film Festival.

The theme for the competition is “2020 Vision,” reflecting the global need to see African characters and situations with clarity and insight. The YouTube category is for story-driven videos of any format, style, and genre of less than 30 minutes in length and filmed on the African continent.

“PAFF has been a pioneer in supporting cinematic storytelling from Africa and the African diaspora for a global audience,” says Ayuko Babu, Executive Director and a Founder of PAFF. “This new category for competition recognizes the power of digital distribution and the growth of YouTube as a part of the African and global entertainment industry.”

The Africa Narrative is a project of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication. Its inaugural research project, “Africa in the Media” measured U.S. media depictions of the continent and revealed that mentions and portrayals of Africa or Africans on popular television shows or in the news are often negative and stereotyped. “Changing the narrative is at the heart of our mission,” says Michelle van Gilder, founder of The Africa Narrative. “This competition gives filmmakers on the continent the opportunity to reach global and local audiences with stories that counteract damaging stereotypes.”

“YouTube’s mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world. We hope this will showcase the next wave of film talent in Sub Saharan Africa, one of our fastest growing markets,” says Dayo Olopade, who leads content partnerships in Africa for YouTube.

PAFF and The Africa Narrative invite content creators who self-identify as African and reside and work on the African continent to submit a story-driven video of any format, style and genre of less than 30 minutes in length. All submissions must be uploaded to the iamAFRICA submissions portal at Submissions that are not in English and do not contain English subtitles cannot be considered. There is no submission fee. Detailed guidelines and FAQs for submission can be found at

The deadline for submissions is October 31, 2019.

Semifinalists will be announced in December 2019 and featured on the PAFF YouTube channel. Winners will be announced in January 2020. A special Audience Award will also be given to the YouTube category submission that receives the most unique votes from viewers online. Three prize winners will be named by a special jury. The chosen winners may be eligible to travel to YouTube Space Los Angeles, where their work will screen at the 28th Pan African Film Festival which will take place February 13-23 2020 in Los Angeles.

By Samantha Ofole-Prince

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