WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship

by Mirabel Pictures / WeOwnTV
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WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship
Production still from MJ Sessy Kamara's SISTERHOOD
Production still from MJ Sessy Kamara's SISTERHOOD

Hey everyone,

Greetings from Zanzibar! The summer has started off with a bang and I am so excited to share updates about WeOwnTv Freetown Media Center and fellowship-supported projects. Three years ago I embarked on a journey to tell the story of local fishermen, their daily struggles, and attempt to protect their livelihood and way of life in Tombo - Sierra Leone’s largest artisanal fishing port with over 600 boats. Many thanks to all of you who have supported us along the way, to WeOwnTV, and Generation Africa for helping us bring this story to the world.I am here in Zanzibar with my friend and colleague Sessy to begin this new part of the journey. My film The New Boats and his project Sisterhood are both being screened at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. 

The New Boats will also be presented as a special online preview screening at theGlobal Health Film Festival next week!. Please join us on Thursday 30 June 19:00 BST #WorldOceanDay

Please see link below.


The New Boats presents an eye-opening look at the impact of International Industrialized fishing in West African waters and it's the disastrous effect on local communities. Sulaiman, a local fisherman and Woody, the Public Relations Officer of Sierra Leone Artisanal Fishermen Union are passionately advocating on behalf of local fishermen and are desperately trying to prevent an environmental disaster with West African fisheries on the brink.

Both films also received support from the Generation Africa program. Generation Africa consists of 25 documentary films made by African filmmakers looking at the lived realities of African youth through the lens of human migration across 16 anglophone and francophone countries of the continent. The initiative brings together documentaries made by filmmakers across Africa. They tell stories of the hopes and dreams of young Africans up against near-unbeatable odds.

 A collection of these films are being broadcast on ARTE and will also start to become available, streaming on @arte.tv starting on, 10th of June! 

‘This unique broadcasting opportunity, as well as the impact strategy behind Generation Africa, will ensure that documentary filmmaking continues in its role as a catalyst for critical conversations that move society forward.’ The New Boats, Sisterhood and Fatimah’s film, Fati’s Choice are among the films being broadcast on ARTE.

WATCH Fati’s Choice is streaming now:

Fati’s Choice will take you to Ghana to meet young mum Fati. Fati gave up on her family's European dream after being kept in a migrant camp in Italy for months. Her community tell her she's a failure for not trying hard enough to make a life for herself in the West. After everything she's been through, it's a bitter pill to swallow.

With Gratitude,


Fati's Choice
Fati's Choice
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Ghana Man
Ghana Man

Hello GlobalGiving community,

Today we are celebrating Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Accra was named by TIME magazine as one of the world's top 100 cities in 2021, but it is also a wonderful city because it is home to two extremely talented filmmakers we have had the pleasure of working with. Lawrence and Fatimah have been creating some amazing work and we want to sing their praises today, and there is a lot to celebrate.

Fatimah recently premiered her fellowship-supported documentary, Fati's Choice in festivals and it will be broadcast on ARTE this summer. Here is a list of festivals and awards the film has garnered so far; Dok Leipzig 2021 World Premiere, Nominations; International Competition Long Documentary, Film Prize Leipziger Ring, International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI Prize); Global Migration Film Festival 2021 Winner: Best Feature Documentary; Miradasdoc 2022, Nominations; Best First Documentary.

Synopsis: A beach reminds us of Fati’s recent past, a past in which she traveled to Italy by sea, without proper documentation, and pregnant for the fifth time. Longing for her children, she returns to Ghana six months later – without her husband. Her family and friends refuse to understand and reject her reason to return. “You’ve created a mess,” a friend says. “How do I tell people?” a sister asks. But all that Fati wants is to provide for and ensure the welfare of her five children, even if it means risking all odds to rescue them from the custody of her in-laws. 

The Africa Institute will also screen Fati’s choice as part of its Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return, which will take place in March at the Africa Institute. Back home in Ghana, public and community screenings have been scheduled for the months of June /July. The objective is for the local community to see the film to help create conversations on the themes that the film raises.

We are very proud to have been a small part of Fatimah's burgeoning career and will be cheering her loudly along the way. 

Lawrence is close to locking picture on his supported film, Ghana Man, and will be applying to festivals later this year.

Synopsis: Sam a 32-year-old man who wears suit and tie to sell roasted plantain in the streets of Accra. He is embarrassed to tell his own family what he does for work and the film explores issues of identity and success for young men in modern Africa. The film follows his dream to change what is possible for his future.

During the fellowship period, Lawrence also began a very personal project for which we have been thrilled to offer both support and guidance. Mfinfini: Somewhere In-between, a mixed genre project that explores Maternal Depression, a common but taboo subject in Ghana. A short narrative film tells the story of a woman named ESI who’s thrown into an unstable mental state after losing her child at birth. She re-lives her pregnancy in a state of psychosis. Her journey of loss is felt as she struggles to deal internally with her own mental state as well as society’s perception of her.

This fictionalized account of ESI’s story is presented alongside a documentary (in production) that tracks the birth of Lawrence's first child. Lawrence, who lost his own mother to severe depression presents a gripping and intimate look to a taboo subject it is essential we begin to talk about. His campaign also includes a podcast and comic book to raise awareness and begin conversations about mental health. We could not be more proud to support him on this journey. 

If you would like to support our work on the weOwnTv Filmmaker Fellowship, please consider donating to the project using the "GIVE NOW" button below. and if you would like to earmark your support for Lawrence's and/or Fatimah's projects, please indicate in the comment section.

With Gratitude

Fati's Choice
Fati's Choice
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Hi Everyone,
This is Fatimah Dadzie a WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellow alumni from 2018. I am thrilled to be able to bring this update to you all for my film Fati's Choice which I developed during the fellowship. The film will have its world premiere at Dokleipzig Festival, and its UK premiere at Afrika Eye Film Festival in the next couple weeks. 

We also just launched a micro project to help raise funds for our community engagement program that aims to inspire debate on the causes and societal impact of irregular migration. We are also raising funds to support Fati's business and her children's education. SUPPORT US HERE

Below is some information about the film, but before I sign off I want to say thank you to all of you for supporting the WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellowship. Being selected to be part of the fellowship was an exciting period for me and the first support I received for Fati's Choice. I had always loved to tell stories but the skill to develop them into a film documentary was nonexistent. However, through the fellowship, I was able to garner the courage to venture into documentary filmmaking and gained significant support from the Generation Africa program and others. 

Director’s Intent

Growing up, I had a lot of family members who traveled abroad and never made it back for the fear of being called a failure. Those who made it home had to do the extreme to impress family members and friends. Why should that be?

So when I met Fati,  the very few people who after going through challenges of getting into Europe are able to independently make the decision to return home voluntarily, I was in awe. I took inspiration from her bold decision as a female to come back home regardless of societal pressure and difficulties to build a better life for herself and her children.

I got to know Fati through a cousin of mine who also tried crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. After talking to Fati, I knew she's the one. Although her economic situation seems tough, Fati exudes positivity and gives hope to those who might be in a similar situation.

This story is my very personal way of exploring the issue of stigma associated with returned migrants especially women who are trying their best to support their families. 

With Grattitude,

Fatimah Dadzie

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Hi Everyone,

My name is Orehmide, and I am a WeOwnTV Filmmaker Fellow. I am so pleased to be able to share some information about my supported film Teenage Dropouts.

Brief Background

Teenage pregnancy and early motherhood have been identified as one of the most prevalent child abuse practices in Sierra Leone. It constitutes a national and community-wide problem, with a prevalence of 68% pregnancy rate among sexually experienced teenage girls, with a mean age of 15 and 28% of teenage boys having caused a pregnancy.

Most people believe that the increase in the rate of teenage pregnancy was due to the Ebola crisis and the emergency measures put in place to respond to it. This resulted in teenagers having more spare time in their hands.

Port Loko District, which lies in the Northern Province, is the most populous District in Sierra Leone after the Western Area Urban. Though the problem of teenage pregnancy is widespread in Sierra Leone, the rate at which it is increasing in communities around Portloko District is alarming. With hundreds of teenage girls dropping out of schools, villages/communities around the Northern District is rapidly becoming a breeding ground for teenage mothers who are now languishing in extreme poverty, with little or no hope for the future.  

The documentary project

Teenage Dropouts centers on the characters of two teenage girls whose untimely pregnancies lead to their expulsion from school, much to the anger and disappointment of their parents. These girls long to return to school but can not raise funds to support their education, but are, saddled with the burden of child responsibilities.

These girls strive for their livelihood on the farmlands and in the forest in conditions that are hazardous to their health. The plights of these girls mirror the lives of hundreds of their peers who are trapped in similar conditions in various communities in the Port Loko District. 

Teenage pregnancy and early motherhood are on the increase in Sierra Leone, especially in the provinces, as it constitutes a social, community, and nationwide problem. It also poses health risks for the mother like fistula, premature labor; they are more likely to be in poverty, are unemployed, and have lower salaries and educational achievements than their peers. Their future should be addressed to bring about social change as it relates to women's empowerment. 

The Characters

Khadija is a suckling mother who now lives in Rolal village after her father sent her packing from Mathaska to live with the man who impregnated her just when she was about to take the Basic Education Certificate Examination(BECE) for entry to senior secondary school. She will not be accepted back until she takes and passes her Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). The irony is that the father of her baby is a teacher. On leaving her village, Mathaska, with no relatives to take her in as instructed by her father, she had to relocate to Rolal and live with the father of her baby. Taking lessons from the father of her child and surviving in his meagre stipend as a teaching assistant, she has taken her pending exams and is now a Senior Secondary School student.

Isatu is a 19 year old mother of three, who had wanted to go back to school. At 15, Isatu was impregnated by her school mate, John, and had to leave school. This angered her father who drove her out of his house. She sought refuge in her Aunt's house. At 17, she had her second child and she is now 19 with her third child. After having her first child, she yearned to go back to school, but as the funds were not available, she had to concentrate on the farm work on her Aunt's farm for survival. She had her second and now has a third child at 19. According to her, going back to school is impossible with three children to take care of. She is, however, looking for a better means of survival as compared to her present farm work. It could be in the form of skills acquisition or petty trading, as life is very difficult for her in Mathaska Village.

Future Plans

We have completed the production stage of the documentary has been completed and are getting ready to work with an editor. Our distribution plan will focus on community events within Sierra Leone. We plan to screen the film in schools, mainly in rural areas, and each screening will be followed with a talkback session. If possible, the characters could also be present to share their stories. Community viewing would be an interactive session with youths, elders of the community and parents present. 

We also are reaching out to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, and the Health Education Department for possible partnerships. It could also be viewed through a YouTube Channel or our local TV channels.

My Motivation and Conclusion

As a Director, I consider film to be the most powerful medium of communication more than the print and electronic form of communication. Film is visual as it tells the story as it is rather than as it should be. My motivation for this story came about after my stay in Portloko. I worked with the Ministry of Health on a family planning and contraceptive program. During my stay in Portloko, I came across so many young promising girls who are pregnant, suckling mothers, single parents, who had dropped out of school. Engaging them, I learnt that after giving birth, they could not go back to school as they had either been thrown out by their parents or there is no money to take care of a baby and school financial obligations at the same time.

Alternatively, there is no other form of education or employment. They had to depend on farm work for survival. In the capital city, Freetown, it is different as there are informal and skills acquiring schools/centres available to map out a future for themselves. As a woman and a filmmaker, looking at the plight of these young girls, I want to use film to tell their stories and hope that it will have a positive impact in their lives. Whereby, government policies will be geared towards young mothers in the provincial areas and NGOs whose mandate might fall within this scope, could step in and help in alleviating the situation.

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Tyson & Mariama, from Coronavirus Wahala
Tyson & Mariama, from Coronavirus Wahala

Dear GlobalGiving supporters, 

This report is from a filmmaker fellow Tyson, who in addition to working on his supported project, Speaking Through Dreams, has produced some amazing reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Hello Everyone,

I wanted to share with you some of my reporting activities over the past year which I am very proud of because it was all about contributing to fight the world's most dangerous enemy of our time.

When COVID-19 outbreak reached my country, Sierra Leone, in March of 2020, I was approached by BBC Africa Eye television to direct an episodic series investigating how the COVID-19 outbreak is unfolding in my city. Initially, I was contracted for just two episodes with the possibility to extend depending on how strong those episodes will be. In the end, I was hired to produce six episodes. The title of the series was “Wahala: Coronavirus in Sierra Leone". Wahala is a local word that means fear, panic, trouble, chaos. This series is up on social media platforms of the BBC and has hundreds of thousands of views. (I will share the direct link below).

While filming, I came across a certain group of sex workers whose story we found very interesting. I wanted to make a longer version of their story and pitched the idea to the BBC. I am proud to announce that they loved the idea and I have just completed directing the film "Lady P and the Sex Workers" which is a 55 minutes doc. It is set for its world premiere on the 8th of February 2021 on all BBC and BBC partner televisions, BBC radio and BBC partner radios, all social media platforms. I hope you will tune in to watch.

As a WeOwnTv filmmaker fellow, I am very proud of this achievement. I want to thank weOwnTV for believing I me many years, ago and for continuing to support me with mentorship and guidance and my career advances. I am focused now o completing my very personal project, "Speaking Through Dreams". We are still raising funds for this project and I am urging you all to consider a contribution, it is a good cause and you all will be proud of our work when the end product comes out.

Thank you all for supporting



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Organization Information

Mirabel Pictures / WeOwnTV

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WeOwnTV
Project Leader:
Banker White
San Francisco, CA United States
$28,046 raised of $35,000 goal
215 donations
$6,954 to go
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