MTV Staying Alive Foundation premieres “In Bloom” Short film series in Johannesburg to tackle issues around Gender Equity

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The MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Paramount, today hosted an exclusive media launch for their latest exciting offering – an anthology of five short films titled ‘In Bloom’. Focusing on gender equity, ‘In Bloom’ features five powerful films written and directed by emerging women filmmakers from Nigeria, Kenya, India, Brazil, and the United States. 

“We know that television shows and films are thought-provoking media essential for encouraging meaningful conversations that can amplify diverse voices and inspire positive change. We’re excited to bring these powerful narratives to audiences with grant support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and distribution and marketing support from Paramount. This initiative presents the opportunity for us to produce game changing content that helps people take positive actions and make better decisions around gender equity related issues.” Wame Jallow, MTV Staying Alive Foundation’s Executive Director.

Launching, in celebration of International Women’s Day, on Friday 8 March, the collection of films addresses a range of issues including period poverty, child marriage, gender-based violence, HIV stigma, and women’s economic empowerment in various languages. 

  • In Yoruba, Nigerian Pidgin and English, the drama ‘Aféfé’– written and directed by Dolapo LowlaDee Adeleke (Nigeria), confronts viewers with a staggering statistic that women and girls worldwide dedicate 12.5 billion hours to unpaid care work every day (Oxfam 2020). 
  • In Swahili and English, the psychological horror ‘Kifungo’– written and directed by Voline Ogutu (Kenya), addresses the alarming statistics that adolescent girls and young women in Sub-Saharan Africa are three times more likely to contract HIV than their male counterparts (UNAIDS 2022). 
  • The English comedy-drama ‘Period’– written and directed by Nicole Teeny (U.S.), highlights the plight of the estimated 500 million people globally who lack access to menstrual products (UNFPA 2023). 
  • The drama ‘Alta’– written and directed by Priyanka Banerjee (India) in Bengali, sheds light on the plight of the 12 million girls married before the age of 18 annually (Girls Not Brides 2020).
  • The Portuguese and English, drama ‘Maré’– written and directed by Giuliana Monteiro (Brazil), grapples with Brazil’s disturbing rise in femicide incidents, where nearly one woman is killed every six hours (AFP News 2022). 

“This unique anthology represents a significant step towards promoting dialogue around gender equity through compelling storytelling. It not only showcases the phenomenal talent of the writers and actors but offers a real-life glimpse into the lives of women around the world who, despite tremendous challenges, defy expectations and continuously challenge the status quo.” said Monde Twala, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Paramount Africa & Lead BET International.

The event was hosted by the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Paramount Africa, with attendance by members of the media and influencers featuring a lively panel discussion hosted by television presenter, actress and co-chair of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation Stephanie Ndlovu. Panellists included Folu Storms, Actress, host, voice over artist, stars as Simi in ‘In Bloom’, Wame Jallow, Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Monde Twala, SVP, GM Editorial & BET International Lead and Lindi Dlamini, former CEO of GBVF Response Fund1 and current Executive Director, Rodean School. The panel served as a platform to raise awareness on the social disparities faced by women globally.

Folu Storms who stars in ‘Aféfé’, reflected on the importance of women’s economic empowerment, a topic explored through the film’s storyline about how care-giving responsibilities fall on a woman’s shoulders, often hindering their career aspirations. 

The African continent obtains a score of 62% performance against key economic indicators on the African Gender Index (AGI), a composite index developed jointly by the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. This score indicates pervasively large gender gaps, and that women in African countries benefit from about two-thirds of the economic opportunities available to men (AfDB and UNECA, 2020).

The gripping collection of short films is set to premiere on BET, DStv Channel 129 and GOtv Channel 27 at 19:00 WAT, on March 8. The anthology will also be available on the In Bloom YouTube Channel in India and Africa, with the release of one short film weekly from 9 March. Join in celebrating the stories of women who move mountains. Follow @inbloomstories on Instagram and @inbloom on YouTube for more exclusive content.

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About Paramount

Paramount is a leading global media, streaming and entertainment company that creates premium content and experiences for audiences worldwide. Driven by iconic consumer brands, Paramount’s portfolio includes CBS, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, Paramount+, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME. Paramount holds one of the industry’s most extensive libraries of TV and film titles. In addition to offering innovative streaming services and digital video products, the company provides powerful capabilities in production, distribution, and advertising solutions. For more information about Paramount, please visit paramount-africa.co.za and follow us on Instagram (@paramountco_africa), Twitter (@ParamountCoAfr) and Facebook (@ParamountAfricaOficial)/

About MTV Staying Alive Foundation

The MTV Staying Alive Foundation harnesses the power of storytelling with entertainment by creating multi-media campaigns on crucial issues to change the attitudes and behaviour of young people around the world. With campaigns across Kenya, Nigeria, India, South Africa, and Cote d’Ivoire, the content has been broadcast on over 180 channels in 70 countries and has reached over 720 million households. Aired on Paramount international channels worldwide, the content is also offered rights-free to 3rd party broadcasters and content platforms and used as a teaching aid by educators, healthcare workers, and grassroots organisations worldwide. For more information about MTV Staying Alive Foundation, please visit https://www.mtvstayingalive.org/ and follow @mtvstayingalive on social platforms.

About Red Media Africa 

Red Media Africa (www.redmediaafrica.com) is the PR & Empowerment Marketing division under the parent brand, RED. It focuses on using inspiration, empowerment, and action to help brands and organisations connect with their audiences, enhance their bottom lines, and lead in their industries. It has 6 major practice areas: Corporate Practice, Technology Practice, SME Practice, Governance Practice, Faith Practice, and International Practice – with work for brands across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. It has been recognised with multiple local and international awards, including the Gold SABRE Awards for PR Campaigns and the Young Lions PR competition for the next generation of creatives

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