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Films can help drive change in Africa: UK actor Ejiofor



(MENAFN - Arab Times) UK actor Chiwetel Ejiofor

'Project Gutenberg' dominates Hong Kong Film Awards

OXFORD, England, April 15, (RTRS): Films telling the stories of innovators in Africa have the power to transform the way people see the continent and drive social change, Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor has said.

Ejiofor's comments came as he appeared at Britain's leading conference on social entrepreneurship, the Skoll World Forum, to discuss his latest film, 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind'.

The film, which he directed, starred in and for which he wrote the screenplay, is based on the true story of William Kamkwamba who helped save his Malawian village from drought by building a power-generating windmill from scrap.

Highlighting young people who identify and find solutions to local problems was important to encourage social businesses, said Ejiofor, who won a BAFTA award and Oscar nod for playing Solomon Northup in the Oscar-winning film '12 Years a Slave'.

'Telling authentic stories about who people are, not just what they are, will enrich the cultural space in a very radical way,' he said on the final day of the four-day forum in Oxford.

'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' was partly financed by Participant Media, a US film company that aims to advance social missions through movies, and launched on Netflix in 2019.

Participant was founded in 2004 by billionaire and former eBay president Jeff Skoll, who set up Skoll World Forum, and is behind the Academy Award-winning film 'Roma' which tells the story of an indigenous Mexican domestic worker.

Social entrepreneurs typically tackle social and environmental problems with commercial strategies.

The sector has grown significantly in the past decade although there is no comprehensive data to show the size of the social enterprise sector across Africa.

There are about 26,000 social enterprises in Ghana and 40,000 in Kenya, according to 2016 estimates by the British Council, a partly state-funded body that promotes British culture overseas.

Ejiofor, 41, who was born in London to Nigerian parents, said he believed the film industry was at a tipping point where more movies that aim to change perceptions and deliver social impact will be made.

'It has taken a bit of time to get to a point whereby we can really start to engage with stories like this, but I feel like we are really on the cusp of being able to do that in an aggressive and a more open way,' he said.

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LOS ANGELES: 'Project Gutenberg' took home all of the big prizes at the Hong Kong Film Awards on Sunday, including best film, best script and best director for writer-director Felix Chong. In total the counterfeiting thriller collected seven prizes, having been nominated in 17 categories.

The film's star Chow Yun-fat was beaten to the acting prize by Anthony Wong, who was a third time winner, this time with 'Still Human', a film about the relationship between a disabled man and his helper. 'Still Human' also earned prizes for The Philippines actress Crisel Consunji as best new performer, and for Oliver Chan as best new director.

The best actress prize went to mainland Chinese performer Chloe Maayan for her role in Fruit Chan's sex-filled 'Three Husbands'. The prizes for best supporting actor and actress went to Ben Yuen and Kara Wai, respectively, both for 'Tracey', a coming out transgender film.

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LOS ANGELES: The Hollywood Women's Film Institute will launch its Hollywood Women's Film Festival with 'Why Not Choose Love? A Mary Pickford Manifesto' as its opening title, Variety has learned exclusively.

The Mary Pickford biopic, starring Sophie Kennedy Clark as the iconic actress, will screen on June 13 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif. Written and directed by Jennifer DeLia, the film also stars Cary Elwes, Balthazar Getty, Luke Arnold, Josephine de La Baume, Jane Stiles, Summer Phoenix, Adam Fergus, and Scott Haze.

'Why Not Choose Love' is produced by DeLia through her Poverty Row production banner along with Julie Pacino, Nitsa Benchetrit, and Kim Zubick ('The Zookeeper's Wife'). The festival will run through June 18 with screenings and events centered on initiatives dealing with education and integration advocacy at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, with additional venues including Dick Clark Productions and UCLA.

Pickford, who was known as 'America's Sweetheart', became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood during the silent film era. She co-founded the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio and United Artists along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith. She was also one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and won the second Academy Award for best actress for her first sound-film role in 'Coquette'.

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Films can help drive change in Africa: UK actor Ejiofor

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