DW Akademie Film Development Fund announces 2023 grantees | Africa | DW | 24.03.2023
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DW Akademie Film Development Fund announces 2023 grantees

15 filmmakers from Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda – five from each country – have been selected to receive one year of funding, mentorship and training opportunities.

Abigail Megbar Debebe is a young, Ethiopian filmmaker with a passion for educating, connecting and entertaining others through film. Kelvin Kagambo is a Tanzanian filmmaker who believes in telling authentic, personal stories that encourage the audience to experience the world from a different angle. Ruth Nazzinda is a Ugandan storyteller and podcaster who is passionate about creating content that impacts her community.

These three filmmakers are part of the latest cohort of 15 DW Akademie Film Development Fund grantees from Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. Five grantees per country were selected by three country-specific juries comprised of industry professionals.

"It is so rare that a film project gets funding this early and having an experienced filmmaker's mentorship is a unique opportunity. I can’t think of a more perfect way to grow my filmmaking career!" said Abigail Megbar Debebe, a filmmaker from Ethiopia and 2023 grantee.

Each successful grantee must have released at least one film and have a ready concept for a feature-length documentary, fiction or hybrid film. The program is designed to support the filmmakers as they work to take their proposed films through the development stage.

"My project is like a small plant and the DW Akademie Film Development Fund offers the light it needs to grow and have a great impact on society," said Ritha Saxon, another 2023 grantee and a filmmaker from Tanzania.

Three countries, one growing community

The program, supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), supports five grantees from each country to work on the development of their films. Grantees will receive €10,000, be matched with an experienced script mentor for the duration of the program and have access to tailor-made training and networking opportunities. Workshops and skills development trainings will be led by industry professionals.

The program was made possible through close collaboration with the three lead country experts, Tamara Dawit for Ethiopia, Amil Shivji for Tanzania and Fibby Kioria for Uganda, who designed the training and mentoring program for 2023 and will accompany the 15 grantees through the funding year.

"I am very excited about the selected grantees this year – especially with so many being new voices – and their potential to tell personal stories with a communal impact," said Shivji.

"One of the reasons the Film Fund has been successful is the growing community of film professionals that are involved and collectively contributing to the strength of the program," said Lina Hartwieg, program director, DW Akademie Film Industries. "This also applies to many talented and motivated mentors who are more than willing to share their deep knowledge of the craft and the industry."

With the Film Fund, DW Akademie is actively contributing to social change, freedom of expression, and the economic empowerment of local African storytellers. The project was launched in 2021 and, in addition to the 2023 grantees, has already supported 15 filmmakers in developing their films. This is the first year that the Fund's application process ran simultaneously for all three countries.

The following filmmakers (listed with their film projects) have been selected for the 2023 funding round:


Henok Legesse Birhanu "Manbeb, Metsaf ena Manenet"

Abigail Megbar Debebe "Abyot"

Habtamu Gebrehiwot "The Fortunate!"

Bontu Shiferaw "Aware"

Leul Shoaferaw "Tiny Grain. Big War"



Freddy Feruzi "A Message to the President"

Kelvin Kagambo "Asante"

Frank Sylvester Machiya "Wagumu"

Neema Ngelime "The Ones with The Tempered Flowers"

Ritha Saxon "1 in 10"



Daisy Masembe "Nekesa"

Ruth Nazzinda "Revenge Porn Ug"

Patience Nitumwesiga "The Stone that Moved"

Daniel Semulema "The King's Portrait"

Ivan Tusabe "What Shines on the Shore"


DW Akademie supports global film

The DW Akademie film industries team supports and implements projects that aim to strengthen the economic systems of film industries in the Global South and to contribute to freedom of expression. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), DW Akademie professionalizes and qualifies filmmakers in the creation, production and distribution of films and series. In this context, DW Akademie works and has been working with a variety of partners for more than ten years, such as STEPS, the LADIMA Film Academy, Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB) and One Fine Day Films.

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