Pressure Cooker Studios is excited to have partnered with this year’s Rough Cut Lab Africa (RCLA) as a sponsor. We will be offering a comprehensive audio package for the selected documentary filmmaker, in the form of studio time and mentorship.

Pressure Cooker Studios strive to be pioneers of the African Audio Arts, elevating the local industry to global standards and bringing Africa’s unique voice to the world. We are passionate about building a platform for talent to flourish, (read more about that here), so this opportunity to incubate upcoming unique African talent in the storytelling and filmmaking space is close to the heart of the Pressure Cooker Studios team.

Rough Cut Lab Africa (RCLA) was conceived and implemented by documentary filmmaker and editor Khalid Shamis in conjunction with the South African Guild of Editors (SAGE) and the Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival (Encounters) in 2017.

Khalid and the SAGE had identified the need for such an intervention because access to expert industry advice, from outside of ‘first world’ consultative frameworks during the final editing stages of a project, is instrumental to shaping the success of documentary films, as filmmakers complete their vision with integrity and enter the marketplace.

RCLA is a Pan-African effort to bring passionate and important documentary films from across the continent to fruition by connecting directors and editors of African heritage with expert industry consultants. The RCLA works with a focus on story construction as a part of the editing process. This enables the amplification of diverse narratives and can highlight underrepresented voices in world cinema. Within Africa’s growing film and media market, documentary filmmaking needs to be nurtured to support the landscape that it can become.

Hosted in Maputo, Mozambique, this will be the 6th edition of RCLA, with preference for the ‘Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa’ or (PALOP) countries of Africa: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. Ten African long-form independent documentary projects have been selected through rigorous deliberation. The Virtual lab of guided consultation sessions will take place between the 8th and 22nd of June 2024. The aim is not to finish the projects for the directors but to help overcome and mitigate possible roadblocks.
A report released last year by ACP-EU Culture (‘Documentary: A look from the side’; 2023) describes a lack of resources, such as funding, equipment and personnel as the challenges faced by those seeking to bring African stories, experiences, emotions and social and political issues to the big screen. The RCLA provides connections, support and awards to overcome and upskill these nascent filmmakers. 

Khalid says: RCLA ensures equitable access to African story consultation and post-production professionals historically disadvantaged by race, gender, or physical disability, to contribute to a diverse talent pipeline for emerging editors and to connect with post-production professionals across the African continent and the Global South.  In my experience, research and estimation we are very well supported on the continent when it comes to development programmes and supportive production initiatives, but somehow we are lacking when it comes to story editing and construction. More often than not our films are constructed and finished outside of the continent, while being beneficial overall for the film project, leaving us in a deficit and a reliance on outside story support which exacerbates historical relationships of reliance on the global North.”

We asked Khalid Shamis to tell us more about the partners on board with RCL and the value they bring: “Since the inception of the lab in 2017 we have worked with a number of partners on the continent in terms of funding support and support for participant projects through an awards system. Our main and consistent funder is the National Film and Video Foundation, NFVF, and over the years we have received funding for the initiative from the Goethe Institute, Documentary Africa and The South African Guild of Editors. Our awards partners range across the continent from The Refinery SA, Fig Leaf Studios Cairo, The Post Office SA, A Kiss in the desert Cairo, Anima Creative Studios Maputo and most recently a great collaboration with Pressure Cooker Studios who, with their wealth of experience and expertise in all things audio, add the much needed and hallowed Post Audio component to the range of awards.”

Khalid Shamis

Astrid Iverson, Head of Production at Pressure Cooker Studios shares her thoughts on the partnership with Rough Cut Labs Africa: “We felt a strong synergy with RCLA when we first started talking to them and learning more about their mandate. From our values in nurturing talent on the African Continent and the power of collaboration feeding into supporting up-and-coming filmmakers, it is a perfect way to invest in the future of storytelling in our industry. This partnership is all about working together, learning from one another, and inspiring creativity and innovation in the industry.”

This year the RCLA’s consultants are:

  • Khalid Shamis: South African in Mozambique 
  • Catherine Meyburgh: South African documentary filmmaker
  • Fradique: Angolan Berlin-based filmmaker
  • Yara Costa:  Mozambican filmmaker and artist
  • Inadelso Cossa:  Mozambican film director, producer, and DOP
  • Tiago Correia-Paulo: Mozambican filmmaker and musician
  • Kamal Aljafari:  Award-winning Palestinian filmmaker now Berlin-based
  • Fatma Riahi:  Producer at Al Jazeera Documentary, from Tunisia
  • Mehdi Bekkar:  Senior Producer at Al Jazeera Documentary, from Morocco

Keep an eye out for more news on this initiative as it progresses.