About this project
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 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.
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.
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)
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. . . ."
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.
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!
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
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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