Electric South announces participants for New Dimensions VR Lab

Electric South announced today the nine participants from across Africa selected for the second New Dimensions VR Lab which will take place near Cape Town, South Africa from 24–28 July. The participants were selected from applications received from 34 African countries earlier this year. They will attend a week long, residential VR lab to learn 360 filmmaking, Unity production and immersive computing, and to develop their VR project ideas.

The VR Lab will be led by creative advisors including: Jessica Brillhart (Principal Filmmaker for VR at Google), Oscar Raby (VRTOV), Darren Emerson (East City Films), Ainsley Sutherland (media technologist and researcher, 2016 fellow at the BuzzFeed Open Lab), Jim Chuchu (visual artist, The Nest), Selly Raby Kane (designer), Stephen Abbott (editor), Simon Ratcliffe (audio engineer, Sound & Motion Studios) and Carl Roberts (Sound & Motion Studios). The workshop is supported by the Electric South team: co-founders Ingrid Kopp and Steven Markovitz and Stanford Gibson and Cornel Dipper.

Advisors: Top Row (L-R) Selly Raby Kane, Oscar Raby, Jessica Brillhart; Middle Row (L-R) Darren Emerson, Jim Chuchu, Ainsley Sutherland; Bottom Row (L-R) Stephen Abbott, Simon Ratcliffe, Carl Roberts

The selected participants are Nigerian visual artist Jumoke Sanwo; a team from Malawi, writer Rodeny Likaku and computer games programmer, Francis Kambili Mzembe; Congolese filmmaker and activist Petna Ndaliko; Zimbabwean journalist and filmmaker Nyasha Kadandara; South African experimental filmmaker and academic, Shelley Barry; Ugandan photographer Sarah Waiswa; and the Cape Town-based team, visual artist Meghna Singh and filmmaker Simon Wood.

Participants: Top Row (L-R) Sarah Waiswa, Jumoke Sanwo, Nyasha Kadandara; Middle Row (L-R) Shelley Barry, Petna Ndaliko, Francis Kambili Mzembe; Bottom Row (L-R) Rodney Likaku, Simon Wood, Meghna Singh

The first New Dimensions VR workshop was held at the Goethe Institut in Johannesburg in 2015 to coincide with the African Futures Festival. Four of the participants from the first workshop have gone on to make VR films produced by Electric South and supported by Goethe Institut, Bertha Foundation, Blue Ice Docs and Big World Cinema: Jim Chuchu/The Nest (Let This Be A Warning), Selly Raby Kane (The Other Dakar), Jonathan Dotse (Spirit Robot) and Ng’endo Mukii (Nairobi Berries). These films were first shown as works in progress at the EFM Africa Hub in Berlin in February, 2017 and have subsequently had successful festival runs, including screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest , Sydney Film Festival and locally at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival and Durban FilmMart. They are also currently being toured around Africa by the Goethe Institut.

New Dimensions VR films: Top Row (L-R) Let This Be A Warning (Jim Chuchu/The Nest), The Other Dakar (Selly Raby Kane); Bottom Row (L-R) Nairobi Berries (Ng’endo Mukii), Spirit Robot (Jonathan Dotse)

The New Dimensions VR Lab is made possible by the generous support of Ford Foundation and Bertha Foundation.

“We are delighted to be able to follow up on the success of the first workshop with this new VR Lab,” said Ingrid Kopp, co-founder of Electric South, “It is very important to us that African creators are part of telling stories in this emerging medium, as we prototype for the future and tell stories that matter to us, from a range of different perspectives.”

Meet the 2017 New Dimensions VR Lab participants:

Jumoke Sanwo

Jumoke is a visual artist out of Lagos, Nigeria, a self-taught photographer, who uses stills, text and video-Art as her means of expression, she inserts her gaze asa cosmopolitan African, navigating non-colonial and post-colonial spaces, while querying pre-existing notions of self and identity. Her work addresses aesthetic concerns, with a focus on enlightenment, religion, technology and mobility. Her works have been showcased in Amsterdam, London, New York, Brussels, Berlin, Dubai, Venice-Italy, Lagos, Sudan, South- Africa, Addis Ababa, Benin, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville and Ghana as part of solo and group shows.

Rodney Likaku

Rodney’s artistic interests are in the possibility of narrative and virtual reality to write the African continent as a story with a future, while simulating within game world conditions some of its most pertinent problems. He is a lecturer in English literature at Chancellor College, the University of Malawi where he works within concepts of narrative design, creative storytelling, the African dystopia as creative ways of postulating the next generation and its problems. He is a writer for Arts Connect International, Boston; and is currently working on his debut Novel.

Francis Kambili Mzembe

Francis specializes in Computer Games Programming. He is currently a lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, where he works on areas within software development, 3D computer graphics and artificial intelligence. He has a lot of passion for video games. Having studied how to develop video games, Francis has come to realise that video games is a medium that can be used as a tool for education, due to the interactive and immersive nature of the medium. Video games for educational purposes is an area which he is currently interested in.

Petna Ndaliko

Petna Ndaliko Katondolo is an award-winning filmmaker, activist, and multi-genre artist from the DR Congo who is acclaimed for his provocative style of digital art, painting, and dance. He is also founder and artistic director of the Yole!Africa cultural center (www.yoleafrica.org) and of the Congo International Film Festival (www.ciff.cd). As an activist he consults regularly for international organizations addressing social and political inequity among youth through culture and education.

Nyashadzashe Kadandara

Nyasha Kadandara is a Zimbabwean-born journalist and documentary filmmaker based in East Africa. Nyasha’s work has covered a broad spectrum of areas including breaking news, social justice, education, conflict and sport. She directed the award-winning documentary ‘Through the Fire’ which premiered at DOC NYC film festival. She is also the winner of the 2016 NBC Sports film contest ‘Cptr’d’ for her short documentary ‘Queens & Knights’. Nyasha’s work has been featured on BBC, NBC Sports, Al Jazeera English, PBS, ZDF and EPIX. Most recently, she has reported on the health crisis in Sudan.

Shelley Barry

Shelley’s films span across genres and are largely experimental in style. She often shoots her own films, exploring the aesthetics of cinematography from the perspective of a wheelchair user. Awards include an Audre Lorde scholarship for film production and Best Film awards at international festivals in NYC, Canada, Moscow, San Francisco, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Her films are studied at various tertiary institutions across the world, including NYU. MTV, etv and SABC have purchased her work. Shelley is the founder of the production company twospinningwheels and is based at the University of Johannesburg where she teaches film.

Sarah Waiswa

Sarah is an award winning Ugandan born Kenya based documentary and portrait photographer with an interest in exploring identity on the African continent, particularly the New African Identity. She is interested in the formation of this identity in relation to the past, how it manifests itself in the present and what it will look like in the future. After getting both her sociology and psychology degrees and working in a corporate position for a number of years, she decided to pursue photography full time. Her desire is to illustrate the plight of various social issues on the continent, in a contemporary and non-traditional way. She is passionate about creating visual poetry and telling stories in the most organic and creative way possible.

Meghna Singh

Meghna Singh is a visual artist and a researcher. Working with mediums of video and installation, blurring boundaries between documentary and fiction, she creates immersive environments highlighting issues of ‘humanism’ through the tool of the imaginary. Her current focus is on the theme of critical mobilities, migration and the invisible class of mobile population that move around the world. She is a visiting fellow at the African Centre for Migration and Society WITS University and an International Fellow at the Institute of Creative Arts, University of Cape Town. Meghna has been awarded numerous international residencies and grants and has exhibited widely in India, United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, Cameroon, Turkey, Portugal and beyond.

Simon Wood

Simon Wood’s latest film ‘The Silent Form’ recently won four awards at the 2017 South African Film and Television Awards. This capped a successful year for the film which had its world premiere in Toronto at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival. ‘ Remarkably this was the second year running that Wood had a film in competition at Hot Docs following his 2015 film ‘Orbis’ which still features on the international festival circuit, most recently being selected for the South African Focus at Visions du Réel 2017. His previous documentary ‘Forerunners’ screened at IDFA, the world’s most prestigious documentary festival and won awards in North America, Europe and South Africa.

About Electric South

Electric South is a non-profit organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa founded by Steven Markovitz and Ingrid Kopp. Electric South provides support and mentorship to digital visual storytellers in Africa by funding and supporting storytelling across the continent in a variety of creative mediums including Virtual Reality, interactive web documentaries, short and feature non-fiction and other mobile-based content. Electric South’s focus is on underrepresented perspectives and daring, timely and urgent stories. www.electricsouth.org

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