Maisha Film Lab – Regional Screenwriting Labs

Applicant: Maisha Foundation Ldt (Uganda)
Location: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda
Duration: 12 months
Amount of the grant: 50 000 €
Project url: website
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“If we don’t tell our stories, no-one else will”. The motto of the Maisha Film Lab association reflects its mission to support young filmmakers and actors in East Africa. 


In 2014, thanks to the support of the ACPCultures+ Programme, the project organised four workshops in documentary/scenarios screenwriting for the benefit of more than sixty participants in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Zanzibar.

Maisha, created in 2004 by Mira Nair in Uganda, trains filmmakers through short-term programmes. Their mission is to “empower” and “enrich” artists to “establish the roots of a self-sustaining film industry in East Africa”. This explains why the training takes place in Uganda but also in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The Screen writing lab selects 15 candidates with a short film screenplay. The script is improved and revised by means of workshops and meetings with mentors. At the end of the course, the Maisha Film Lab selects the best scenario and provides 2000$ to produce it. In 2014, the funding was coming from the ACPCultures+ Programme and was enough to allow the whole training to be supported by scholarships.

Many participants found the workshops extremely useful and enriching. This is the case for Muthoni Waigwa, who declared after the seminar: “I have understood that the true backbone of any film is its story. You can have the best director, production crew and equipment but if the story lacks a central idea and essence, then the film ceases to come to life”.

Another participant, Dennis Brad Kunguru, simply confessed that  he “learned more than what I did at the university for two years”, while Edna Nyawanza Andsaid was so enthusiastic about the lab that she argued that “if I get a chance to participate in another boot camp like this one, I believe I'll come up with an African block buster.”

A positive outcome

After nine years, results are praiseworthy. Maisha provided over 550 scholarships and contributed to the production of over 50 films. Besides, several films were shown in international film festivals such as Rotterdam, Berlin or Toronto, enabling a chosen few to turn their short films into feature.

Amongst the former students, we can count the actress Lupita Nyong’o who just obtained an Academy award for the best supporting role in 12 Years a Slave, Dilman Dila, director of the awarded The Felistas Fable or Ritesh Batra, former 2006 student, with his film The Lunchbox, shown at Cannes Festival in 2013 and which received the Viewer Choice Award during the International Critic Week, followed by many worldwide awards and nominations. Kivu Ruhorahoza has in 2015 premiered his film Things Of The Aimless Wanderer at both Sundance Film Festival and Rotterdam Film Festival.


Maisha Lab in Kempala

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