A brand new documentary funding award for African filmmakers has been created by The Whickers in partnership with Durban FilmMart Institute. This new fund, called ‘The Whickers/DFM Emerging Director’s Bursary’, is available annually to all participants in Durban FilmMart from the Talents Durban programme to the main market. Following the 2022 edition, we are delighted to announce the winner of this year’s £3,000 bursary.
The first Whickers/DFM Emerging Director’s Bursary goes to a Director who has swapped a career in finance to develop her first feature doc turning the camera on the patriarchal world she has grown up in to help answer questions about her place in it. In the development of Fifty Metres, Yomna Khattab has already demonstrated a fresh and creative filming style. Her questions and observations are witty as well as meaningful. This father/daughter journey set in a water aerobics team training pool will take us deep into rarely seen Upper Middle class Egyptian society and has all the ingredients for an original and memorable film.
Yomna shared this synopsis with us: “After his retirement, my father joined a water aerobics team with a group of elderly men. They meet three days a week in a 50 metres long pool. The film explores my relationship with my father by interacting with his world. This comes in an attempt to redefine my relationship with him whom I do not know much about his past life. Once I started the film’s journey I realised that we share the same dream of becoming filmmakers, but he chose to conform, leaving remnants of this dream captured on VHS. The same material that I will use here to highlight our visible similarities and differences. The film explores the space that I am trying to find as a young woman among a group of men, reflecting on their past lives with pride and regret as I wonder about my own future. Their slow movements, the hilarious tales of the past, and the heated childish conversations of current events come at the heart of the film. A film that they are attached to in an attempt to avoid the ghost of a looming end. Fifty Meters is my way of confronting this generation’s concepts of authority, patriarchy and masculinity.”
Yomna Khattab is an Egyptian filmmaker with a background in banking and a 2015 published story book, Videotape From the Nineties. As a scriptwriter, her feature Rokaya won Sawiris Cultural Prize for Best Script for Young Scriptwriters 2018. In addition, she won the Film Prize Robert Bosch 2021 Development Fund for her script writing on her short film The First Sin. She is currently developing her first feature documentary. Coming from an economical background, her main interest is to explore the politics affecting women’s lives and modern family dynamics in contemporary times.
Jane Mote, Consultant Editor for The Whickers said of the selection: “There was so much talent among the first time Directors at Durban FilmMart that it was hard to choose one winner, but I was completely captivated by the fresh style of emerging Director Yomna Khattab who turns the camera on the patriarchal world she has grown up in to help answer questions about her place in it and her relationship with her father. ‘Fifty Metres’ is set in the swimming pool complex that her father and his friends use for water aerobics training and already demonstrates a unique and creative approach. Yomna’s questions and observations are witty as well as meaningful. This father/daughter journey will take us deep into a hitherto unseen Upper Middle class Egyptian society giving audiences a very different perspective on Africa. It has all the ingredients for an original and memorable documentary.”
Valerie Kleeman, Chair of The Whickers’ Awards Committee added: “This is a joyous film proposal that works on many levels, it is also a journey of the heart. Although it is early days, Yomna Khattab’s talent is already evident, she has a genuinely creative eye and is fitting winner of our first Durban FilmMart bursary.”
The Whickers team was very impressed by another project Conjestina, The Final Round being developed by Director Bill Afwani and Producer Natasha Elkington out of Kenya, which was a strong contender for the bursary. The story is about a renowned female boxer who fell from limelight due to mental illness and the team have access to her son who is trying to restore her health and her fame as well as increase understanding of mental health issues. The project is at a very early stage but our Editorial Consultant Jane Mote has agreed to provide mentoring support for the team and we hope to hear more from them in future.