Supporting young women filmmakers in Africa

Call for applications – Film and artist-in-residence, Nara Japan 28 March- 12 April 2020 

Submission deadline: 10 January 2020 

Under the guidance of internationally acclaimed Japanese Film Director, Naomi Kawase, this arts residency for 10 young women film professionals from Africa in the village of Tawara, surrounding the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nara, is a unique opportunity to work, discover, exchange, create. Residents selected will be invited to present their work at the Nara International Film Festival in September 2020. Apply now! 

“It is important for the film sector to make the voice of Africa heard, to support the emergence of diverse cultural expressions, put forth new ideas and emotions, and make sure that women as creators contribute to a necessary global dialogue for peace, culture and development.” – Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, FESPACO 2019  

“It is extremely difficult for us to observe our own life, as it involves looking into the embarrassing or undesirable aspects of ourselves. In a way, being a woman made it easier for me to look closely at my own environment. Women tend to be more intuitive and rely more on their senses, or it might be due to gender status differences in Japan … Not being in the mainstream or the center, she can make new discoveries. In my case, I will create things from the sources within myself.” – Naomi Kawase, Film director and founder of Nara International Film Festival 


UNESCO is engaged in promoting diversity of cultural expressions and gender equality in the arts and cultural industries. The Organization supports initiatives that open mobility and professional opportunities for a new generation of women in Africa to create, make their artistic work visible, accessible and recognised. 

With funding from the Government of Japan, and in partnership with the Nara International Film Festival Organizing Committee, UNESCO is offering a 2-week filmmaking residency (29 March to 12 April 2020) for 10 young African women filmmakers from different selected countries in Africa. 

This film and artist-in-residence workshop will allow for the transnational exchange and sharing of artistic experiences between young African and Japanese filmmakers in a productive creative environment. It will provide artistic guidance and put in place a genuine platform for experimental creation and artistic renewal. It will foster collaborations between Africa and Japanese artists, provide international exposure to the work of young women artists, and open new opportunities for artistic creation, production and dissemination. 

Within the duration of workshop, the participants will complete their short films, from shooting to editing. They will collaborate and interact with other participants, discuss technical and artistic issues, sharing with the group the different stages of the editing. 

Participants will also be invited to present their in-residency work during the Nara Film Festival (Nara, 18-22 September 2020), in order to increase networking opportunities, establish solid international ties, and reach out to new audiences. 

Ms Naomi KAWASE, will ensure the overall artistic direction of the residency with the support from her team from the Nara film festival. Ms Fatou Kande SENGHOR, will also be coaching and mentoring the participants. 


Applicants are emerging women filmmakers, with some film or audio-visual experience, a good command of English and aged 21-35 from the following countries: 

 Burkina Faso 

 Kenya 

 Nigeria 

 Senegal 

 South Africa 

Two applicants will be selected in each country by a joint national/UNESCO committee. 


The Film and artist-in-residence will take place between 29 March and 12 April 2020. Participants will live and work in the beautiful village of Tawara (Nara, Japan), where Naomi Kawase filmed The Mourning Forest, Grand Prix at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. 

Residents will work in pair or small groups, with the support of the mentoring team. Young Japanese women filmmakers will join the residency. Collaborative work will be encouraged. A provisional schedule is attached in section X. 

The Nara team will provide artistic, technical and logistical assistance. Filming equipment will be put at the disposal of participants. 

The residency participants will be invited again to screen and present the work completed at the Nara International Film Festival from 18-22 September 2020. They will participate in public discussions, masterclasses and networking sessions with Japanese film industry professionals. 


In order to apply for this filmmaking residency, you must qualify for the following conditions: 

1) A woman 

2) A citizen of the following 5 countries: 

 Burkina Faso 

 Kenya 

 Nigeria 

 Senegal 

 South Africa 

3) At least 21 years old and no more than 35 years old 

4) Have at least 2 years of professional film or audio-visual experience 

5) Have at least directed one film (short, medium, long feature or documentary), preferably shown in a festival and/or broadcasted 

6) Speak and understand English – IMPORTANT, the residency will be conducted in English 


Before applying, please ensure that: 

□ You attest that you are able to travel and stay in Japan for the entire duration of the filmmaking residency (29 March to 12 April 2020) and for the participation in the Nara International Film Festival (18-22 September 2020). 

□ You have a passport valid at least until December 2020. 

□ You prepare a note of intent on what you intend to achieve with the residency 

□ You send a DVD or screener link of cinematographic works you have realized 


Applicants will be evaluated based on the following criteria: 

1) Motivation. Why you are interested in participating in this filmmaking residency in Nara, Japan? 

2) Relevance. How do you think this filmmaking residency could help develop your capacities in filming? 

3) Sustainability. How can you use this residency to promote further the role of women in the film sector? 


In order to apply for the filmmaking residency, applicants should: 

1) Fill out the application form in English 

2) Attach required materials 

3) Sign and date the application. 

4) Submit by 10 January 2020 a completed application by email to cu****************@un****.org. UNESCO will confirm receipt of applications via email. All applicants will be notified within two months as to whether or not their requests have been approved. 

An evaluation committee composed of UNESCO and selected national and international professional institutions will evaluate applications and decide upon successful candidates, considering the eligibility and selection criteria outlined above. 

Only successful applicants will receive a reply from UNESCO. 


Logistic and operational support 

Residents will benefit from a logistic support: 

– assistance on administrative and visa procedures 

– organization of accommodation in the village of Tawara 

Financial support 

Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by UNESCO. 

Once selected to participate in this filmmaking residency programme, you will be provided: 

1) 2 return air tickets from the city of your residence to Nara, Japan 

2) Accommodation, meals and local transportation for the duration of your stay in Nara, Japan 


  • 13 December 2019: Launch of Open Call for applications  
  • 10 January 2020 : Deadline for submissions of candidate applications 
  • 31 January 2020 : Selection of laureates and communication of results 
  • 29 March- 13 April 2020 : Residency in Nara, Japan 
  • 18-22 September 2020 : Participation in Nara International Film Festival, Japan 


Should you have any questions, please contact the UNESCO Secretariat by e-mail: 



Diversity of Cultural Expressions (DCE) 

Culture Sector 

7, place de Fontenoy 

75352 Paris 07 SP 


The UNESCO/Nara film residency is funded by the Government of Japan and organized in partnership with the Nara International Film Festival Organizing Committee, with the support of the Japan Foundation.