With the exception of Nigeria’s Nollywood, which produces an average of 2,500 films a year, Africa’s “potential as a film powerhouse remains largely untapped” despite great strides in production, according to a Unesco report.
Brazil’s Spcine, the city of São Paulo’s film-TV body, is hoping to change the status quo. Since it launched the country’s first international film incentive policy in 2019, Spcine has played a vital role in fostering the Brazilian audiovisual industry worldwide. In 2020, it spearheaded a strategy to strengthen ties with the African continent, particularly in markets with the strongest growth potential, led by Nigeria and South Africa. The move makes sense, given that Brazil is home to the largest black population outside of Africa and the third-largest in the world, with over 79 million Afro-descendants.
In 2022, Spcine participated in key audiovisual events in Africa, particularly the Pan-African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO) in Burkina Faso and in Nigeria where it took part in targeted meetings and visits, seeking to close business deals and strategic partnerships with distribution and production studios, training institutes, film schools and festival heads.
More recently, Spcine sent a delegation to the Durban FilmMart in South Africa, held between July 20 and 30, 2023, which highlights the foundations of the African film industry.
It was here that Spcine formalized its commitment, signing a co-production pact with South Africa that entails an investment of $20,000 per project (est. 95,000 Reales), which will cover comprehensive support for four projects, two led by South African producers and the other two from São Paulo-based producers.
The call for projects is expected to be posted by the first semester of 2024, said Spcine president, Viviane Ferreira, who highlighted the Audiovisual Professional Meetings: São Paulo – South Africa which assembled creatives and execs from the São Paulo and the South African industries online so they could pitch their projects to each other. “It was four days of meetings with a matchmaking session, and we made a catalogue with everyone who was interested in collaborating with São Paulo and vice versa,” she said.
According to Spcine, several key factors drive further cooperation between Brazil and Africa:
- Nigeria is the only other country that boasts a black population exceeding that of Brazil. This connection, rooted in the African diaspora, offers fertile ground for collaborative ventures and cultural exchanges.
- The film and audiovisual industry in Africa wield considerable influence, contributing an estimated $5 billion to the GDP and supporting approximately 5 million jobs, as per Unesco estimates. The future holds promise, with the potential to generate 20 million jobs and contribute $20 billion to the collective GDP of the continent.
- Numerous media outlets indicate that by the end of this century, an anticipated 442 million Portuguese speakers will inhabit the world. Presently, Brazil leads with 215.8 million speakers, but projections suggest that the growth of Lusophony will be spearheaded by nations such as Angola and Mozambique. The anticipated population surge in these countries hints at Africa potentially emerging as the premier Lusophone consumer market for audiovisual content, surpassing even Brazil.
- Forecasts for Nigeria point towards its ascent as a global powerhouse by 2100, propelled by the expansion of its working-age population. This demographic surge is anticipated to fuel rapid economic growth, advancing the country from the 23rd position in the 2017 world GDP ranking to the 9th position. This transformation, both economically and demographically, reveals strategic opportunities for collaborative ventures and investments in the audiovisual sector between Brazil and Nigeria.
In further initiatives, as a direct outcome of Spcine’s visit to Lagos in March 2023, a São Paulo – Nigeria 2023 Meeting backed by Brazilian Content and organized in partnership with The Production Collective of Nigeria has furthered business partnerships between between Brazil and Nigeria. Discussed at a virtual meeting were co-productions, licensing of original content, and provision of production services.
Spcine also attended African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) over Nov. 5-10. It took part in two panels – International Cinematic Collaboration Opportunities with Nigerian Filmmakers, and Spcine in Conversations with Nollywood – and backed a networking event and Brazil x Nigeria Speed Dating Sessions, where Nigerian producers presented projects.