Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 8.

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One young West African's quest to transform himself into an international Opera star, despite all odds.

Thanks to your incredible support, we've met our stretch goal! But we still have till Midnight EST to make this campaign EVEN MORE successful - all contributions go toward making this film as beautiful as possible! Thank you for the love!

Scroll down for sample prints and pics of rewards.

THE STORY

THE TENOR FROM ABIDJAN is a feature documentary that will capture one West African’s quest to become a professional opera singer, despite the overwhelming odds against him. The film will focus on Landry Assokoly, a 24 year-old Ivorian from the tropical city of Abidjan, and follow him as he struggles for a spot in a top European conservatory, dealing with the implications of leaving home, moving to the Netherlands, and facing the highly competitive audition process, among other things.

The film will begin with Landry's experience living in Cote d'Ivoire, and juxtapose his life at home with entirely different environment he will encounter in Europe. We will tag along as he endures a draconian visa approval process, says goodbye to family, boards a plane for the first time in his life, sets foot in Europe (also for the first time), finds himself alone in a foreign country, and exposes himself to criticism and acclaim from peers and professionals alike. We will see him succeed, stumble, and pick himself back up - all in the name of his deepest desire.

The Tenor from Abidjan is a film about an underdog's hope in the face of adversity, and about daring to dream - but most of all it celebrates the unlikely story of Landry's love for the Opera.

THE STAR

 
 

Martial Landry Kouakou Assokoly Yao – Landry for short – fell out of my sky on a cloudy afternoon in a small fishing village outside of Accra, Ghana. I heard him before I saw him: who was listening to the Opera at 2pm on a weekday in the middle of the tropics? I asked myself. I hit the main road to see him him coming towards me singing in his powerful tenor voice. I chased down the road after him and breathlessly asked why he was singing Opera. He laughed a little. Perhaps thrown off by my rude interruption, he answered simply, “Because I love it.”

At 24 years old, and with no formal training, Landry is risking everything in order to realize his dream. He comes from a stable background, but his family cannot financially support him during his move. Adding to the financial risk, he has given up his studies in business to pursue Opera - leaving him very few professional options in the event that he isn't successful. Though he practices every single day, downloading videos and recordings from the internet to rehearse them later, he is seeking stardom in a stereotypically "white" art form that boasts only a handful of stars from the African continent. Adding insult to injury, the visa process for young Africans trying to enter Europe is draconian, at best. Landry has already been denied a visa once because the immigration agent felt "there wasn't enough of a reason for him to return home."

WHY THIS MATTERS

This is an underdog story about Landry's quest to win over the world of Opera, and to turn his dream into reality. Landry's passion and perseverance shine through instantly when you meet him, and are infectious. The viewer wants to see him succeed, and we hope this film will help him to do so.

But this film also hopes to do more.

Positive stories of Africa aren't often told to Western audiences, especially ones that have a universal appeal. Driven by the lack of these stories, we are hoping to create a project that focuses on the human elements of Landry’s unique and personal journey: growth, perseverance, coming of age, facing one’s fears, moving towards the unknown.

By showing one young man's story instead of focusing on the generalized “issues” facing the entire African continent, our project also challenges the way we think and talk about Africans, and urges us to forge a global community that embraces and seeks out artistic talent, regardless of the origins of its bearer.

Your support will make sure that we get to tell, and the world community gets to hear, a different African story.

The Tenor from Abidjan is the exploration of this very human story, told through the eyes of one inspiring young man.

Morning in Kokrobite, where we met Landry.
Morning in Kokrobite, where we met Landry.

WHY WE NEED YOU!

While the director and producers are working for free, there are real costs of production, especially for a film with an international component. Your generous pledge will kick-start the project into full-on production. It will finance the shoots in the Ivory Coast and the Netherlands that make up the first part of the film, so that we can capture both Landry's life at home and his journey to Europe.

Our initial goal is $22,500, which will just cover the expenses of shooting the first part of the film (after Kickstarter's cut and taxes). But in order to do things at the highest quality, a budget of $25,000 would be ideal, and we see that as our stretch goal. This production is an international effort:  we will hire a sound engineer and a translator in Abidjan, and utilize the amazing talent of artists and musicians in our rewards/the film (think the soundtrack, and the tote/duffel bags), to ensure that our efforts and your pledge has a positive impact on the local economy.

WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES:

  • Hiring a top-notch Director of Photography ($3,500)
  • Hiring an Ivorian Sound Engineer and French/Baoule to English translator ($2,000)
  • Camera and Sound Equipment rentals plus insurance ($5,000)
  • Flights/Ground Travel and Visas/Vaccinations (7,500)
  • Food and Accommodation on the ground ($2,000)

STRETCH GOAL: 

Because of your generosity, we have established a STRETCH GOAL of $25,000. This is our way of paying it forward to Landry, the amazing young man who has allowed us to fulfill our dreams by filming his story. The additional $2,500 will cover the expenses of us arranging for Landry to see the Opera for the first time, go behind the scenes to meet performers whose ranks he hopes to join some day, and to stand upon the stage and hear his own voice for the first time in the arena of his dream. And, obviously, be there to film it.

Any additional funds will help to offset additional costs in our $150,000 budget, such as:

  • An extra week of shooting on the ground in Abidjan.
  • Hiring a professional editor to cut the first act.
  • Translations, transcriptions, and subtitling.

At this stage of the project, we (Director Taneisha Berg and Producer Elaine Gibson) have constructed a well-defined film during 6 months of pre-production. We have had interest from various producers and distributors, and we are confident that finishing a strong rough cut of the first act will attract the financial support needed in order to finish photography and cut the film.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

This is Africa: "I'm sure I'm not the only one looking forward to seeing this story unfold on the screen."

Okay Africa: "The unlikeliness of this Ivorian man's story [is] what spawned Berg's The Tenor from Abidjan, a feature-length profile on...self trained virtuoso Landry Assokoly."

Africa is a Country"[S]omething in him - and not just his physical ability with his amazing voice - harmonises with what an aria can do when it is at its transfigurative best."

MusicFilmWeb"It's both a compelling individual story and an aria of inclusion that you can help ensure is sung to its fullest."

Accra Premium: "[A] rare opportunity to support the production of a documentary that will share with the world a new perspective on Africa, Ghana, and the tremendously talented people who live on our shores."

The Cynical Owl: "My heart melted. You know no matter what people say, follow your dreams. Here's a perfect example of that."

IndieWire"As I've said before here on this site, we get approached by a lot of people who want us to mention something about their crowd funding campaign for projects that they're currently working on. . .Some of them are interesting and...well...like I said, some of them are interesting. But when I was approached recently by filmmaker Taneisha Berg regarding her new Kickstarter campaign for a new documentary titled 'The Tenor from Abidjan' I was immediately interested. . . ."

REWARDS

Double Reflections, Ghana.
Double Reflections, Ghana.

 We've done our best to make rewards personal, meaningful, and something that relates to the project. They range from the personalized, such as writing your name in the sand, postcards from the road, and phone calls from the team, to representative of our experience in West Africa, like signed prints, a hand-made travel bag, and spices from the Ivory Coast.

Taneisha is a passionate photographer, and has continued to document her travels around the world. By choosing rewards that include her images, you will receive highly personal images that reflect the natural beauty and glowing humanity of the places she visits.

Pattycake in Lomè, Togo.
Pattycake in Lomè, Togo.
Brothers in Ouagadougou.
Brothers in Ouagadougou.
L: Fishing Boats. R: Doorway. Ghana
L: Fishing Boats. R: Doorway. Ghana
Water jug, Benin. Market smile, Togo.
Water jug, Benin. Market smile, Togo.

One reward which we feel strongly about is the duffel bag ($225 reward level), which brings a little bit of West Africa right to you. People have been asking for pics, so here they are!

Hand made by an expert tailor in either Abidjan or Accra, light-weight, comes in 3 prints. 10' x 8' x 20'
Hand made by an expert tailor in either Abidjan or Accra, light-weight, comes in 3 prints. 10' x 8' x 20'
Detail of side pocket (it has two!) with button closure.
Detail of side pocket (it has two!) with button closure.

HOW DOES THIS THING WORK?

It couldn't be easier! All you have to do is sign up for a free KickStarter account, contribute as much money as you like, and claim your reward. Your credit card will not be charged unless we reach our initial goal. (If we don’t reach our goal, you will still forever be in our hearts, but the project will not receive any of your pledges (frown)). If you would like to increase your contribution at any time during the campaign, just log back into your account and click ‘Manage Your Donation’ on this page.

Want to take it a step further? Once you've become a backer, tell the world! Share the page with anyone that might be interested in this remarkable story, like us on facebook and invite your friends, or tweet about the kickstarter and the film!

You can find us online at facebook.com/adifferentafricanstory (or search "The Tenor from Abidjan") and our Twitter handle is @africantenordoc!

Remember: this is a grassroots effort. Each pledge has a positive impact, and goes a long way!

Thank you so much for your support, we can't wait to share this film with you!!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We have been in pre-production for months now, researching and prepping for production, and are finally ready to begin principal photography of this remarkable story. Landry has agreed to let us into his life, giving us exclusive access to the story and his journey, so we are fully committed to making this film a reality.

Our kickstarter funding goal is only a part of our larger budget (150,000) so we hope to exceed that number, which will be combined with other resources and funding options. We realize that there are risks associated with not being fully funded from the start. However, this is a crucial moment in the film and shooting must take place before Landry leaves Abidjan in order to tell the whole story.

The initial goal covers production of the first half of the film, and if for some reason we don't make our entire budget, we are prepared to release a shorter version of the film and absorb the extra costs ourselves.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    26 backers

    DIGITAL LOVIN'. For the price of a drink you'll get an effusive thank you via facebook and/or twitter, plus inclusion in our mailing list. Every little bit helps, and we are truly grateful for your support!

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    45 backers

    IMMORTALITY*. Get your name on the permanent "supporters" page of film's official website, plus all the digital love. *Don't test this out.

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    93 backers

    SWEET BEATS. Digital download of The Tenor from Abidjan soundtrack, featuring original music from West African artists and recordings of Landry's choir/performances + all the warm fuzzies from the IMMORTALITY* level.

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    64 backers

    SIGHT FOR SORE EYES. Digital release of the film, plus high-res digital still taken by the director while on the road (either production still or travel photography) + IMMORTALITY*!

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    16 backers

    DIGITAL PACKAGE AWESOMENESS : Digital release of the film, digital download of the soundtrack (featuring West African artists and Landry himself!), a high-res digital still taken by the director while on the road + online happiness the IMMORTALITY* level.

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    24 backers Limited (16 left of 40)

    A DAY AT THE BEACH. We will write your name in the sand on a beach in the Ivory Coast, take a picture of it, and send it to you for your digital pleasure (along with a personal thank you from the director, and everything from $50 level).

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    8 backers

    WISH YOU WERE HERE. A physical, handwritten thank-you postcard from the road signed by cast/crew, digital release of the film, digital download of the soundtrack + FB/Twitter love!

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    2 backers

    HARD COPY. Signed DVD of the film, digital download of the soundtrack, your choice of a signed still print and postcard from the road, thank you in your inbox from all of us, IMMORTALITY and lots of online warm fuzzies!

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    1 backer

    **NEW REWARD** LEAP OF FAITH. Landry will light a candle for you in his home church, St. Paul's Cathedral in Abidjan, and we'll take a picture and send it to you! Whether you're Catholic or not, a little spiritual fire can always help, right? Plus digital download of the film, download of the soundtrack, a signed print from the road and a social media hurricane of thanks.

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    2 backers

    KEEP IT MOVIN'. Carry-on sized duffel bag for your international travel needs. Handmade from 100% wax print lined-cotton in a traditional pattern + everything from the $50 level. Note: Taneisha takes one on all trips, everywhere - it's the best!

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    3 backers

    **NEW REWARD** SIGNATURE EDITION. This gets you a digital download or DVD of the film and soundtrack, special "Thank You" in the film's credits, a signed 8"x10" print of your choice, a snapshot of your name in the sand in the Ivory coast, a personalized postcard from the road, and good karma in addition to many, many thanks on our various social networks/website.

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    0 backers Limited (30 left of 30)

    **NEW REWARD** ON LOCATION. 3 signed, limited edition, exhibition quality prints of your choice (20cm x 30cm - roughly 8" x 12") from Taneisha's travels in West Africa. Examples of her work can be seen in the REWARDS section of the description. A special "Thank You" in the credits, in addition to a digital download or DVD of the film, the soundtrack, a postcard from the road and lots of online love.

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    1 backer

    TOTAL REQUEST LANDRY. Pick your favorite aria (in the tenor vocal range) and Landry will record his version of the piece for you. Digital download of film+soundtrack, a very special "Thank You" in the credits, postcard from the road, lots of online gratitude and a personal thank you from the director!

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    3 backers

    GET TO KNOW US. Early digital release, with followup google hangout with the team. A very special "Thank You" in the film's credits. Signed DVD, digital film/soundtrack, online love and a personal thank you from the director, postcard from the road, plus a big shoutout on all our online platforms!

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    **NEW REWARD** This gets you 3 limited edition, signed exhibition quality prints (30cmx45cm or roughly 12"x18") taken by the director during her travels in West Africa. Examples of her work can be seen in the REWARDS section. A very special "Thank You" in the film's credits, in addition to the DVD and digital download of the film and soundtrack, a skype call with the team, plus a postcard from the road, and muchas gracias online.

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    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    GETTING PERSONAL. The next time Taneisha's in town*, she'll meet with you and tell you all about the film's progress, what it's like living in Rome, and whatever else you want to talk about. The first 2 drinks are on us! Plus everything from the $500 level. **Generally limited to SF Bay Area, NYC, and Rome, with some exceptions. Tell us where you're located and we'll let you know!

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    **NEW REWARDS** You get 3 signed limited edition, exhibition quality prints (50cm x 75cm, roughly 20"x30") taken by the director, in addition to the duffel bag and everything from the $75 level. Examples of her photography can be seen in the "Rewards" section of the project description.

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    0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)

    WE COME TO YOU. Taneisha and/or a key member of the "Tenor" team will host a private screening in your home for you and your friends, and bring West African food (Plus the rough cut, popcorn and sippables). You'll have a chance to give your input and participate in the filmmaking process. NYC, SF Bay and Rome only. A signed, exhibition quality print (roughly 12"x18"), duffel bag, digital film + soundtrack, special "Thank You" in the credits, and a personal note from the director, in addition to online embraces.

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    1 backer

    THE CONSERVATORY. Ivorian care package from the team including the carry-on sized duffel bag designed by the director from the $225 reward level, a unique spice blend from the Baoule' people - Landry's group - and a signed print taken by either the director or the director of photography. Signed DVD and soundtrack + Invitation for two to the release (transport/lodging not included), invitation to the release party. Patron recognition in the film credits, periodic updates from the director, and our undying appreciation. Seriously. You are amazing.

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    DRESS REHEARSAL. Ivorian care package from the team including the carry-on sized duffel bag designed by the director from the $225 reward level, a unique collection of tea and spices from the Baoule' people - Landry's group - and a signed prints taken by either the director or the director of photography. Signed DVD, soundtrack, Invitation for two to the Release (transport/lodging not included), invitation to the release party and private reception with Landry and the filmmakers (singing may occur). Benefactor recognition in the credits. Periodic phone updates from the team on the road, and some other surprise goodies. Undying gratitude is included and is also renewable.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    OPENING NIGHT. Associate Producer Credit. Ivorian care package from the team including the carry-on sized duffel bag designed by the director from the $225 reward level (see photo in the description), a unique collection of tea and spices from the Baoule' people - Landry's group - and 2 signed prints taken by the director/director of photography. Signed DVD, Signed soundtrack, and digital versions of both. Invitation to the Release for 4 people (transport/lodging not included), invitation to the release party for 4 and a private reception with Landry and the filmmakers. Benefactor recognition in the credits. Periodic phone calls with the director to keep you updated, plus a 30-min skype call from the team to personally thank you and keep you up on our progress! Recognition in press materials, sneak peeks and google hangouts to discuss the direction of the film, and, of course, some extra special treats from us (your name in the sand, personal call from Landry, etc.). We cannot express how incredible you are. We might actually shout your name from the mountaintops.

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Funding period

- (33 days)