Need an “in” to the Industry? Dedza Films wants to help.
It’s hard to emerge as a visionary new filmmaker when the world is shut down. In April 2020, 20-year-old filmmaker Kate Gondwe looked at the encroaching pandemic and knew it was time for her to act.
Her brainchild? Foster diversity, build community, and cultivate the next wave of young filmmakers in the face of a global shutdown.
That was the start of Dedza Films, a distribution company led by emerging filmmakers that focuses on shorts. This week, Dedza Films and Kino Lorber announced they will be partnering on a distribution incubator-type initiative for short filmmakers.
“We believe short films should be met with support to further propel the artist,” explained Gondwe to No Film School.
“In times of crisis, cinema is a tool to connect humanity and provoke action. We are looking for the next pioneers who break the rules! Dedza doesn't conform to Western industry standards, and we are proud to have unique voices from the U.S. and international markets submitting to our first-year launch. Here at Dedza, we are looking at the best way to distribute BIPOC filmmakers' work and bring non-BIPOC work together as a whole for our collection, and new models/strategy for digital distribution, etc. We also believe that short-form is becoming more acceptable as a completed product to a consumer. That means something for our industry, and we should start reacting to it.”
According to Kino Lorber, their team will consult with the Dedza FIlms team in areas of programming, marketing, publicity, packaging, and distribution in the digital and home video space.
The goals are to break down existing barriers to entry into the film industry and create a platform for short films to be supported. According to Kino Lorber, the team is seeking unique new voices that align with "arthouse, low budget, experimental approaches from U.S. and non-U.S. filmmakers."
Here is the description of the new partnership from Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell:
“Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have too long faced inequitable barriers to entry into the entertainment industry. We at Kino Lorber hope that our incubator initiative will assist its participants to overcome those barriers and make a small contribution to the industry’s long overdue need to diversify its ranks. We have known Kate since her college internship with us. We were deeply impressed by her passion and professionalism and couldn’t be more proud than to work with her new company, Dedza Films, and support its mission to support diverse storytelling, and to find and elevate the next generation of talent. “
Dezda and Kino Lorber will have a team of curators choose eight to 10 emerging filmmakers. (And unlike many other programs, being a student in college or high school is absolutely okay!)
What happens for filmmakers selected from this initial submission period?
- Your short film will play on Kino Now
- A DVD boxset will be produced and distributed at the end of the first year
- Kino Lorber and Dedza will jointly organize a series of virtual panels, talks, and workshops that will be open to all exploring your film
- Yearlong mentorship in distribution, communications, and film journalism
- Limited theatrical release when possible again after COVID-19
If this sounds like an opportunity that would fit you, completely free submissions are open now on Dedza Films.
Need advice on whether you should apply or not?
“Part of the new model we are using is open submissions,” explained Gondwe. “It's certainly a trial round. We are also looking at markets to find films, but traditional distribution tends to close out voices by requiring sale agents, high-profile festival criteria, and connections. Many filmmakers, especially in the beginning, don't know these things. It's hard for us to make it out of regional spaces. We hope Dedza provides a space with industry-like access for these filmmakers. Dedza hopes to attain the early works of the next wave but also bring in the next wave of distribution that is 100% way more diverse.”
Need more details as a filmmaker? Or are you interested in partnering with Dedza in another capacity, like grassroots distributors, female-led international distributors, streaming platforms, micro-cinemas, archival collectives, or innovative short film organizations? Feel free to email the team directly.
If you have a short film and are thinking of submitting, go for it! Submission info can be found at Dedza Films here.