News : Development

Twitter CEO’s weak argument why investors shouldn’t fire him

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey might not spend six months a year in Africa, claims the real product development is under the hood and gives an excuse for deleting Vine before it could become TikTok. Today he tweeted, via Twitter’s investor relations account, a multi-pronged defense of his leadership and the company’s progress. The proclamations come […] (

WhatsApp to Add Further Protection to Vulnerable Chat Backups

The Android version of WhatsApp is looking to get a new security feature which will allow users to protect their message backups, reports My Broadband via WABetaInfo. The feature is currently in its Alpha stage of development. WhatsApp currently allows users to back up their chats, media and contacts automatically to their Google Drive. This […]

The post WhatsApp to Add Further Protection to Vulnerable Chat Backups appeared first on IT News Africa - Up to date technology news, IT news, Digital news, Telecom news, Mobile news, Gadgets news, Analysis and Reports.


‘SNL': Democratic Candidates Crash Pence’s Coronavirus Press Conference (Video)

In the cold open of the latest “SNL,” the show skewered Vice President Mike Pence and the fact that he’s been placed in charge of Trump’s coronavirus task force. Then it mashed it up with a grab bag of the week’s politics news, featuring the shows versions of the Democratic primary candidates — including John Mulaney as the new Joe Biden.

The skit began with Beck Bennett as Pence giving a press conference to explain, and of course fail, to reassure the country about, whether the Trump administration has a handle on the coronavirus problem. It didn’t help that he brought out Keenan Thompson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, who was there because he’s actually a doctor.

“This is something I actually do know about,” Thompson’s Carson said, “and in my opinion it’s gonna be baaaad.”

He then attempted to explain the threat posed by coronavirus with a photo of Stitch from Disney’s “Lilo and Stich.” “It looks like this. As you can see from his sharp teeth he’s a nasty little thing,” Thompson-Carson said.

Also Read: First Coronavirus-Related U.S. Death Reported in Washington State

That’s when Bennett’s Pence took back over, telling Americans to take simple precautions, like “covering your mouth when you cough, and as always closing your eyes during intercourse.”

Thompson-Carson then offered Americans a free MAGA sticker, though he admitted it would probably be several months late since “They are made in Wuhan China.” Then he slunked off the stage mumbling, “it’s baaad.”

Pence then protested that “now is the time for unity and not the time to politicize this issue,” at which point the “SNL” versions of the Democratic hopefuls popped up, beginning with Fred Armisan’s Mike Bloomberg.

Bloomberg claimed that he got past security by coughing and making everyone avoid him, then said he’s the candidate to lead America out of the coronavirus crisis, “even if that candidate lacks charisma, or the ability to connect with human being.”

Next up, Kate McKinnon’s Elizabeth Warren showed up basically to menace Bloomberg as she’s expertly done during recent Democratic debates. Then Mullaney’s Joe Biden appeared, joking that he looks different because “the surgery is starting to settle.”

Also Read: Joe Biden Wins South Carolina Democratic Primary; Sanders Is Distant Second

Mullaney-Biden then told an obviously false story about how “the year was 19-ticky tavvy and me and Nelson Mandela were traveling around South Africa “Green Book” style.”

Of course Larry David’s Bernie Sanders showed up to make the point that with coronavirus, “universal health care doesn’t sound too crazy now, does it?” Colin Jost’s Pete Buttigieg also showed up because “I’m a candidate too for the next three days.” Of course, then Rachel Dratch’s Amy Klobuchar showed up to chastise Pete.

And near the end, David’s Bernie urged people to wash their hands and said “I might get in trouble for saying this, but you know who was good at washing his hands? Joseph Stalin.” We see what you did there.

Watch a clip from the bit below:

Mike Pence addresses Coronavirus…
until the Democratic candidates interrupt. #SNL

— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) March 1, 2020

More to come…

Related stories from TheWrap:

Bill Maher Is Chill About Coronavirus, Except That Trump Is in Charge and 'Keeps Telling Us Crazy Lies' (Video)

Game Developers Conference Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Coronavirus Rocks Wall Street This Week: Apple, Disney Stocks Take Major Hits


From ‘The Bachelor’ to ‘Avengers,’ How Bob Iger Grew Disney From a Mouse Into a Media Goliath

After a hugely successful 15 years, Bob Iger stepped down as Disney CEO on Tuesday, transitioning to the role of executive chairman so he can focus more on the creative aspects of the business until his contract expires at the end of 2021.

During his tenure as CEO, Iger transformed Disney into a media behemoth, bringing brands like Marvel and Lucasfilm under the Disney umbrella, growing the company’s lucrative parks business and, most recently, overseeing the landscape-shifting acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets and the launch of the streaming service Disney+.

Iger also made some money for shareholders of the publicly traded company. In fiscal 2005, Disney’s revenue was less than $32 billion. By the end of fiscal 2019, revenues had more than doubled and nearly hit $70 billion. How did that translate for those invested in The Walt Disney Company? From right around when Iger took over as chief executive officer through Tuesday, when he stepped down, Disney stock grew $100 per share, from around $28 to $128.

Also Read: How Bad Was Disney's Box Office Before Bob Iger Turned It Around?

But even before his tenure as chief executive, Iger had already been a rising star at Disney for decades. Iger began his career at ABC in the ’70s, working his way up to lead the broadcast network from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, when his role expanded across Disney.

At ABC, he developed long-running hit shows like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” The latter is still on the air and still performing well in its 30th — yes, you read that right — season. And it’s hard to overstate the popularity of “Millionaire” at its peak. The show, which ended a 17-year run in syndication just last year, was the most popular program in primetime during the 1999-2000 season, drawing as many as 30 million viewers per episode and airing three days a week.

Iger was also a big proponent of “The Bachelor,” birthing what would become one of broadcast television’s biggest franchises. Michael Eisner, Iger’s boss at the time, didn’t want the show. But Iger would eventually succeed Eisner, and “The Bachelor” franchise would be a ratings giant on ABC for decades, spawning numerous hit spinoffs.

In 2006, Iger, who had expanded his role beyond ABC at this point, moved “Monday Night Football” from ABC to Disney-owned ESPN. While ABC would love to have those weekly ratings now — and may again in the future — the shift helped ESPN command the cable network’s huge carriage fees and cemented ABC as primarily entertainment programming during the traditional September-May Nielsen TV season.

Also Read: Disney Stock Had a Tough Day -- and Then Bob Iger Stepped Down as CEO

On the cinematic side, Iger inherited a Walt Disney Studios that was becoming reliant on Pixar’s rising power as an acclaimed animation outlet to support its box office numbers. Aside from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, Disney had few other reliable franchises as the renaissance period of its own animation studio had waned, leaving Pixar characters like Buzz Lightyear, Nemo and Mike Wazowski as the new icons that Disney fans were embracing.

That soon changed as Iger led Disney to make three vital acquisitions that transformed its box office revenue completely. The first was the January 2006 purchase of Pixar itself, a dramatic shift from the distribution deal that had been original arranged between previous Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs.

While talks between Eisner and Jobs broke down and nearly caused the two companies to part ways, Iger got Jobs to sell Pixar to Disney in exchange for a spot on the board of directors as Disney’s largest individual stockholder.

Also Read: Why Bob Iger Says He Needs to Step Down as Disney CEO

In addition, the purchase made Pixar President Ed Catmull and EVP John Lasseter — also director of “Toy Story” — the creative heads of both Pixar and Disney Animation, dramatically changing the direction of both operations. Since that purchase, the films released by Pixar and Disney Animation have grossed over $17 billion at the global box office with seven films each grossing over $1 billion.

The next move came on December 31, 2009, when Iger led Disney to a $4 billion purchase of Marvel Entertainment just 19 months after the release of “Iron Man,” the first installment in what would become the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the first phase of films that established the film series’ popularity were distributed by Paramount, Disney would take control in 2012 with “The Avengers,” the film that showed the full power of the MCU and grossed over $1 billion worldwide. Since then, the MCU has grossed over $18 billion at the box office for Disney, including $2.79 billion from “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest grossing film of all time.

The third big buy came in 2014, when Disney once again paid out $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm and the “Star Wars” franchise from creator George Lucas. Production immediately began on a new “Star Wars” trilogy with plans to create a series of spin-off films and eventually TV shows as well.

Also Read: Disney Names Bob Chapek as New CEO as Bob Iger Steps Down

While Disney’s management of “Star Wars” has been rocky, with polarizing fan reception for sequels and directors leaving multiple projects, the five films released by Disney have grossed over $5.8 billion dating back to 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which grossed over $2 billion.

In addition to expanding the IP of the Disney empire, he also found ways to exploit that content across multiple platforms — including the lucrative and ever-expanding theme parks and cruise divisions. New rides devoted to Marvel and “Star Wars” themes helped drive increased attendance, and the company opened new parks in Hong Kong (in 2005) and Shanghai (in 2016).

Iger was already planning his retirement by the time Disney made its two of biggest moves under his leadership.

First came the $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox entertainment assets, including the 20th Century Fox movie studio and the company’s portfolio of TV networks and studios — including FX, National Geographic and 20th Century Fox Television. The deal closed in 2019, reducing the number of major movie studios from six to five and growing Disney to a size unmatched in the current media landscape.

The Fox acquisition also came as Disney was laying the groundwork for its foray into the direct-to-consumer streaming space with Disney+. Launched last November in response to growing competition from tech companies like Netflix and Apple, the service has already racked up more than 26 million paid subscribers.

Also Read: New 'Star Wars' Feature in Development With 'Sleight' Director JD Dillard

To look at the ads for Disney+ and the different brands it promotes is to see Iger’s legacy laid bare. The service promotes not only the complete catalog from Disney, but also those from Pixar, Marvel, “Star Wars” and National Geographic, all of which came under Disney’s ownership thanks to Iger’s maneuvering. “Star Wars” in particular has been vital for the service’s launch, as the franchise’s first TV series “The Mandalorian” became popular with fans and encouraged millions to buy subscriptions last fall.

Iger specifically called out both the Fox merger and the Disney+ launch in the statement announcing his plans to step down as CEO. “I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO,” he said, naming parks executive Bob Chapek as his successor. Chapek hailed Iger’s success in his own statement, saying the executive “has built Disney into the most admired and successful media and entertainment company.”

Iger isn’t done with Disney yet. With more than a year left on his contract, Iger said in a call with investors on Tuesday that he intends to shift his focus to maintaining Disney as a top creative brand until his exit at the end of 2021.”The goal was to turn over the day-to-day management of our company to Bob (Chapek),” he said, adding that this will “free me up just to basically focus on the creative side.”

“It was just that simple,” he said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

How Bad Was Disney's Box Office Before Bob Iger Turned It Around?

Why Bob Iger Says He Needs to Step Down as Disney CEO

Disney Names Bob Chapek as New CEO as Bob Iger Steps Down


Space X to Begin Space Tourism Programme

The Verge reports that four individuals are currently set to take a trip around the Earth sometime at the end of 2021 or the start of 2022 with SpaceX. This new development stems from a deal between upstart spaceflight company and Space Adventures, an established space tourism enterprise that has since been the medium by […]

The post Space X to Begin Space Tourism Programme appeared first on IT News Africa - Up to date technology news, IT news, Digital news, Telecom news, Mobile news, Gadgets news, Analysis and Reports.


Disney Hires BBC Studios Alum to Lead TV Content for Europe and Africa

Former BBC scripted content portfolio director Liam Keelan has joined the Mouse House. The London-based exec will take on the newly created regional role of VP of original productions for television, where he is to oversee content for both channels and fledgling streaming service Disney+ in Europe and Africa. Leading a team of development and […] (

Cracks Appearing in Trump's Huawei Boycott

It must have been a galling experience for President Trump when his good mate British Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to step in line with Trump's demand that the UK should also boycott the Chinese firm Huawei by not allowing them to be involved in the rollout of 5G in Britain. However, the involvement of Huawei will be limited.

It further proves that boycotting Huawei is a political and not a technical issue. Huawei is a poster child for China's international technology success and, by boycotting Huawei, Trump is hurting China as a global technology leader.

While there are other good telecoms manufacturers, Huawei is internationally recognized for being the leader in 5G technology, innovation and R&D, at the same time, it has been able to offer their products and services at a significantly lower cost than its competitors. Britain recognizes, as do many other countries in Europe and Asia that this provides them with the best possible mobile technology, which will assist these countries in global competitiveness and provides lower prices to its citizens.

To highlight this situation, the restriction put on Huawei in the rollout of 5G in the UK is going to cost British Telecom £500 million, as it will have to buy more expensive gear from other suppliers. BT's shares, already down 25% over the previous 12 months, were down a further 7.5% after the company's assessment of the Huawei impact.

I totally agree we need to be very wary of the totalitarian regime in China, where President Xi Jinping is using technology in an Orwellian way to control and manipulate its population, with the aim of making them placid and complacent. And he would like to extend his surveillance state model beyond the Chinese borders.

However, these sorts of concerns should be addressed through international forums putting pressure on China to adhere to global values and agreements. In these international forums, the rest of the world shouldn't shy away from strong pressure and strong condemnation.

As mentioned, the UK is not giving Huawei a free ride — there is a range of restrictions on the company's participation in the 5G rollout. Also, Boris Johnson voiced its support for more local R&D support in order to stimulate more competition into the telecoms equipment market. There are basically three major global telecoms manufacturers, apart from Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia (the latter two both European companies).

Back to the politics of the issue, in my opinion, Trump tries to mix these real concerns with global hegemony issues and the fear of the United States losing out economically to China.

It will be interesting to see if there will be any fallout of Johnson's decision not to follow Trump's lead. Unlike other countries in Europe and Asia who are still buying Huawei equipment, Britain is part of the Five Eyes countries. These Anglo-Saxon countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) share intelligence, and Trump has already mentioned his concerns about any of these countries not complying with the U.S. policy on Huawei.

With Britain leaving the EU, this country is now desperately looking for new bilateral trade deals, and Trump could make life difficult for Johnson by dragging out negotiations and/or being stubborn about making deals.

By the same token, an unpredictable President Trump could suddenly end the Huawei boycott if he believes he may get good concessions out of President Xi Jinping.

Another interesting development to follow is the reaction of other countries in the process of making decisions about the rollout of their 5G network. Will they follow UK's lead and withstand the Trump threats? Through the so-called Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes alliances, many more countries are linked to intelligence sharing arrangements with the United States. Apart from Australia and Japan, none of them have followed the U.S. lead.

It is expected that New Zealand and Canada are now expected to follow the UK's lead. The EU, as a group, has already indicated it is not in favor of banning any company from the 5G rollouts. Instead, they are working on a stringent security framework for these networks that will be imposed on all players. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also voiced her opposition to a Huawei ban, and the UK decision will no doubt also further strengthen her stand on the issue.

At the same time, countries in Africa and Asia are continuing to roll out networks with Huawei's 5G equipment, and here the UK decision will have a positive effect on further decisions to be made on these continents.

In short, this story is far from over, and there will be many more twists and turns before we will see the end of this. In the meantime, the real focus should be on global corporations aimed at ensuring that our democratic and human rights values are well protected in the wake of all the new technologies — not just in relation to 5G, but also and in particular AI.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication


Facebook partners with 9 African organisations for Safer Internet

Facebook is partnering with nine non-profit organisations and government agencies throughout sub-Saharan Africa to raise awareness about Internet safety and security for Safer Internet Day, celebrated on 11 February with the theme “Together for a better Internet”. The partners Facebook is working with this year include: Digify Africa, South Africa Phambano Technology Development Centre NPC, […] (

Cyberspace Security in Africa – Where Do We Stand?

Very few African states today have developed a national cybersecurity strategy or have in place cybersecurity and data protection regulations and laws. Yet, the continent has made major headway in developing its digital ecosystem, and moreover, it is home to the largest free trade area in the world, which is predicted to create an entirely new development path harnessing the potential of its resources and people.

The world bank believes a digital economy in Africa can boost economic growth on the continent by up to two percentage points per year and reduce poverty by one percentage point per year in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. But not even such great predictions and clear solutions to poverty alleviation have convinced the continent's leadership to work towards ensuring that once the digital ecosystem (an ecosystem so critical to the continent's success and future) is developed, it should be protected and kept stable. Such laxity explains why according to a survey carried out by the African Union Commission (AUC), out of the 55 African states, only 8 countries have a national strategy on cybersecurity, only 13 with a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) or Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs), 14 with personal data protection laws, and only 11 with cybercrime laws. A similar report by Deloitte expresses similar concerns.

While the individual governments on the continent seem to be very slow to appreciate the importance of the concept of cyber safety, the regional political body, the African Union seems to be making some gains in raising awareness and advocating for better cyber safety, well, at least to the continent's ministers of Information and Communications Technology. On September 20, 2018, The African Union Commission (AUC) put out a call for experts to join its African Union Cyber Security Expert Group (AUCSEG), based on a resolution by its Executive Council earlier in January of the same year to create an Africa Cyber Security collaboration and coordination committee to advise the AUC and policymakers on Cyber strategies, with the following specific tasks:

  • Advising the AUC on cybersecurity issues and policies, such as capacity building initiatives;
  • Proposing solutions to facilitate the ratification and domestication of the Malabo Convention into national laws;
  • Sharing best practice on critical and Internet infrastructure security and how to mitigate current and new threats;
  • Identifying areas of research needed for the formulation of policies, guidelines, etc., which can be general or sector-specific, for instance, cybersecurity for smart grid technologies in the electric power industry, for financial systems, and for equipment monitoring tools;
  • Identifying ways to support Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs), in the area of capacity building and information sharing at the regional and African Union level;
  • Encouraging close collaboration among the AU Member States and stakeholders, including in responsible and coordinated disclosures;
  • Proposing ways to increase the skills of information systems and cybersecurity professionals in Africa (e.g., by fostering trusted certification programs);
  • Supporting AUC in formulating strategies for cybersecurity and capacity building programs;
  • Supporting AUC and Member States on international cooperation matters regarding cybersecurity, personal data protection and combating cybercrime.

The group was formed and held its inaugural meeting on December 10, 2019. They have, through its chair, been asking African experts to submit their personal assessments of the state of cybersecurity in the continent, especially as it pertains to what the continent has done right and what it can do better.

To answer that call, I would say I think the adoption of the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection in 2014 is amongst some of the things that Africa has done right in this area, even though most countries are yet to ratify the convention. Even with the challenge in ratification, it remains a major step forward towards increasing awareness amongst the ministers and administrators from member states. Then there was the piece of work that was done to develop and launch the Privacy and Personal Data Protection Guidelines by the African Union Commission in partnership with Internet Society (ISOC). That was also an important milestone towards secure cyberspace in Africa.

However, and as I've written before, it is disappointing to see that continent-wide and regional initiatives like the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) do not embed cybersecurity considerations and concepts at their conception phases and when such projects are developed. In light of current technological trends and in line with progress being made in developing the African digital ecosystem, free intra-regional trade will not only be offline. Rather, we are sure to see a significant amount of the intra-regional trade taking place on the Internet. Digital trade generally requires a great deal of free movement and flow of personal data, as data is the lifeblood of the digital economy. A continent-wide digital trade involving consumers cannot occur without the collection and movement of personal data like names, email addresses, and billing information across borders. In order for such a market to be efficiently regulated, the region will need to look into unifying implementations of cybersecurity and data protection regulations across the continent. The best way to do that (in my opinion) would be for African states to adopt the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection or at least align their national cybersecurity legislation with it. Current disparate implementations of data protection regulation (where they exist) make it a very tedious task for multinational businesses or any company carrying out business with partners in multiple countries in the region to lawfully transfer data across borders as part of their operations. Non-compliance with the different data protection regulations may preclude companies from potential business exploits in the region.

We must also remember that in most advanced information societies, regulation tends to play catch up to innovation. Technology use led by the private sector should, in theory, be speeding ahead, while government and public policymakers struggle to catch up. But that is not even the picture we see across the continent. Admittedly, there is some technological progress, but not nearly fast enough to transform the continent into an information society. Therefore, we must start asking questions like what the implications are, if the private sector that is meant to lead innovation also suffers from lack of awareness in cybersecurity, just like their public sector and civil society counterparts.

It is often assumed that the key issue hindering progress in the maturity of cybersecurity posture in Africa is the public leaders. In fact, in the request by the chair of the AUCSEG in one of the African policy chat forums — the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) telegram channels, the chair asked for "suggestions on how to message cybersecurity/technology and digital trust ideas to analog African leadership." Yet, in an empirical study on National Cyber Security Awareness in Africa using focus groups, some African stakeholders responded that, "the government realizes that lack of awareness is crucial and recognizes the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach towards this goal." This raises many questions. Amongst them are questions like — are our assumptions of what seems to be the challenge of advancing the cybersecurity posture on the continent and even the general adoption of technological solutions wrong?

Another pertinent question that comes out of the above statement is, if African governments are aware, or at the very least have an idea of what needs to be done to improve their countries' cybersecurity posture but no progress is being made on that front, then what exactly is stopping them?

As the new year and decade begin, these are some of the important questions the AUCSEG should be finding answers to, and hopefully propel the continent to a better cybersecurity posture than we find ourselves today. With the right answers, the continent might move from a Start up stage (stage 1) to at least the Established stage (stage 3) of the University of Oxford Cyber Security Maturity Model for Nations (CMM) which assesses the cyber security capacity maturity capabilities of states over five dimensions (Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy; Cyber Culture and Society; Cybersecurity Education, Training and Skills; Legal and Regulatory Frameworks; and Standards, Organizations, and Technologies) with indicators that describes steps and actions that must be taken to achieve maturity in one of the following 5 stages of maturity: 1) Start up; 2) Formative; 3) Established; 4) Strategic; 5) Dynamic.

But if in answering these questions, the AUCSEG finds that it is indeed the 'analog-ness ' of our leaders that is hindering progress in cybersecurity on the continent, then I would recommend the following next steps:

  1. Investing in awareness of the 'analog' leaders on how cybercrime and poor or lack-of a national cybersecurity strategy and regulation affect the various state economies and their governments' legitimacy.
  2. The AUC should invest in trust-building mechanisms between governments and their private sectors and civil society, in order to create channels of communication and trust in local expert advice. It also makes it possible for successful government-private partnerships in national security.

Once these are in place, strategies like a Whole-of-Government (WoG) approach, which is necessary to achieve an efficient and cost-effective national cybersecurity should be recommended to African states. This approach lends to the process of better coordination and the use of existing resources.

And finally, if the AUCSEG is going to support the AUC and member states on international cooperation on matters of cybersecurity and cybercrime as listed on its list of tasks, then it should investigate and advise the AUC on how recognition (or the lack of) of cyberspace as the fifth domain in military warfare could possibly impact the national security of African states. Only one country in Africa, the Republic of South African, has researched and considered the concept of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), which is a military concept that proposes that new military doctrines, strategies, tactics and technologies are required for future warfare. Especially in this digital era where more and more public civilian infrastructure is also being targeted both at peacetime and at wartime as legitimate military targets due to the dual-use nature of cyber infrastructure.

While it is understandable that there are financial limitations amongst other things, that limit developing countries from adopting such a concept, African leadership must be aware and well versed with the concept to substantially contribute to current global security and International law (as it relates to cyberspace) discussions and fora, like the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security and the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) looking at cyberspace norms.

Written by Tomslin Samme-Nlar, Researcher


Caribbean countries could be affected economically by coronavirus – UNDP official

A senior official of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) countries will suffer disruptions to their supply chains as Chinese production of goods stalls as a result of the coronavirus (2019-nCoV)... (

Heather Young’s ‘Murmur’ Wins Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance Film Festival

“Murmur,” from director Heather Young, won the Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize from the 26th Slamdance Film Festival, the festival announced at its awards ceremony at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, Utah on Thursday night.

The jury at the festival also recognized Merawi Gerima’s “Residue” with an honorable mention, and “Residue” also took home the audience award for narrative feature.

“We congratulate the winners of Slamdance 2020 and we celebrate all of our new filmmakers who have shown us that the art of filmmaking is brilliantly alive,” Slamdance co-founder Peter Baxter said in a statement. “This next generation collectively brings us art formed in risk taking, bravery and the unexpected. It’s not just their characters who are on an adventure. It’s the filmmakers as well and Slamdance will continue to be their companion.”

Also Read: The Scene From TheWrap at Sundance (Photos)

“The Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature goes to ‘Murmur,’ the quietly devastating debut feature from Canadian filmmaker Heather Young. This richly detailed and deeply humane drama offers an insightful and sympathetic portrait of a lonely woman — affectingly portrayed by newcomer Shan McDonald — who goes to self-destructive extremes while attempting to fill the gaping void in her life,” the jury said in a statement. “An honorable mention goes to Merawi Gerima’s mesmerizing first feature, ‘Residue,’ which is at once inventive, poetic and angry about issues of identity, gentrification and the difficulty of returning home.”

Director Brian Morrison’s “Bastards’ Road” won the 2020 Audience Award for Documentary Feature. “Shoot to Marry,” directed by Steve Markle, walked away with this year’s Best of Breakouts Audience Award, given to films in the festival’s Breakouts Section, which showcases filmmakers who have made a feature before.

“Higher Love,” directed by Hasan Oswald, won the Documentary Jury Prize, and an honorable mention was given to “Maxima” directed by Claudia Sparrow. “To Calm the Pig Inside” won the Documentary Short Grand Jury Prize,” and “Umbilical” and “My Favorite Food is Indian Tacos, my Favorite Drink is Iced Tea and my Favorite Thing is Drumming” both won honorable mentions in the category.

Also Read: Sundance 2020: Every Movie Sold So Far, From 'Ironbark' to 'Palm Springs'

This year, the festival also offered the AGBO Fellowship, presented by Slamdance alumni Joe and Anthony Russo of “Avengers: Endgame” fame. The prize was awarded to Carlota Pereda, director of “Piggy.” Pereda will receive a $25,000 prize designed to enable a deserving filmmaker the opportunity to continue their journey with mentorship from the Russos as well as development support from their studio.

“Carlota Pereda’s ‘Piggy’ is a punch to the face. An accomplished mix of biting social commentary and emotionally devastating filmmaking. We’re extremely proud to present her with this year’s AGBO Fellowship. And we look forward to supporting her work in the future,” the Russo said in a statement.

Slamdance’s 2020 feature competition lineup included 16 World, North American, and U.S. Premieres – including films from Belarus, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa and the United States. In total, 11 narrative and 9 documentary features were showcased in competition. All competition films are feature length directorial debuts with budgets of less than $1 million USD, and without US distribution.

This year’s festival boasted the DGA as a major sponsor, Blackmagic Design as a major sponsor, and CreativeFuture, Pierce Law Group, LLP, Final Draft, and Entertainment Partners as awards sponsors.

Also Read: 'Save Yourselves!' Writers Wrote the Script for Lead Sunita Mani (Video)

Check out the full list of winners from the festival below:

Jury Awards | Narrative Features

Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize – “Murmur” (Dir.: Heather Young)

Honorable Mentions: “Residue” (Dir.: Merawi Gerima)

Jury Awards | Documentary Features, Documentary Shorts

Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize – “Higher Love” (Dir.: Hasan Oswald)

Honorable Mention – “Maxima” (Dir.: Claudia Sparrow)

Documentary Short Grand Jury Prize – “To Calm the Pig Inside” (Dir.: Joanna Vasquez Arong)

Honorable Mention: “Umbilical” (Dir.: Danski Tang) and “My Favorite Food is Indian Tacos, my Favorite Drink is Iced Tea and my Favorite Thing is Drumming” (Dir.: Derius Matchewan)

Jury Awards – Narrative Shorts

Narrative Shorts Grand Jury Prize:  “Moving” (Dir.: Adinah Dancyger)

Honorable Mention: “Proof” (Dir.: Nishtha Jain, Deepti Gupta)

Jury Awards – Experimental Shorts/ Animated Shorts

Experimental Shorts Grand Jury Prize: “Shooting Stars” (Dir.: Magda Jaroszewicz)

Honorable Mention: “Meteorite” (Dir.: Mauricio Saenz)

Animated Shorts Grand Jury Prize: “The Little Soul” (Dir.: Barbara Rupik)

Honorable Mention: “Symbiosis” (Dir.: Nadja Andrasev)

Slamdance Acting Award: Obinna Nwachukwu (“Residue”)

Slamdance Acting Award Honorable Mention: Maya Harman (“Chubby”)

George Starks Spirit of Slamdance Award Winner: Yani Gellman of “Greetings, from the Planet Krog!”

CreativeFuture Innovation Award: “The Little Soul” (Dir.: Barbara Rupik)

The AGBO Fellowship, presented by Joe and Anthony Russo, Award Winner: Carlota Pereda, (Dir., “Piggy”)

Audience Awards:

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: “Residue” (Dir.: Merawi Gerima)

Audience Award for Documentary Feature: “Bastards’ Road” (Dir.: Brian Morrison)

Best of Breakouts Audience Award: “Shoot to Marry” (Dir.: Steve Markle)

Related stories from TheWrap:

Sundance Lessons: How the Trump Era Has Focused Indie Filmmakers' Lens

Sundance Film Festival 2020: Star-Studded Parties Heat Up Park City (Photos)

Sundance So Far: A Muted Festival Struggles for Attention in Chaotic Times


Fertility alarm - Ja’s population predicted to plunge by turn of century

Jamaica’s population is predicted to nosedive by 50 per cent at the end of the century and present a development challenge for the country. This was revealed by the Caribbean Development Bank of Jamaica (CDB). Speaking at the annual Sir Arthur... (

Connecting the Next 46 Percent: Time to Pick the Good From the Bad and the Ugly (

AMC Development Slate Includes Projects From Katie Couric, Stephen King, Ilana Glazer (

Rob Lowe Says His ‘Little Stupid Christmas Elephant Movie’ Got More Netflix Viewers Than ‘The Irishman’ (

The Decade When Hollywood Cracked Open – In Praise of the 2010s (

HUAWEI Mobile Services launches Developer Integration Challenge; developers can win their share of R650K in prizes

HUAWEI Mobile Services (HMS) recently launched the Huawei Developer Programme, Shining-Star, in South Africa. This programme is part of a $1 billion global investment that HUAWEI is committing to, to encourage global developer innovation and support. In South Africa, the Shining-Star programme will focus on assisting local app developers in the following ways: Talent Development [&hellip (

Tips for Sending Money Online to Togo

According to the World Bank, Togolese nationals in the diaspora remitted over $500 million in 2018, placing the country in 10th position in Africa in terms of remittances. As a measure of GDP, the remittances accounted for 8.5%, exceeding the country’s foreign direct investments and official development assistance.  Are you looking at sending money to [&hellip (

NO UK AID FEARS - High commissioner says proposed merger won’t compromise Britain’s ties with Ja

The top British diplomat in Jamaica has sought to dispel fears here and in the wider Caribbean that the prospective merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DfID) will cause millions of... (

Global giants eye Africa for data centre expansion

The greatest commodity in the world today is information, as information leads to knowledge. Similarly, the ability to access, and distribute information have become crucial factors for the upliftment and development of any county. “Moving towards a knowledge-based economy by harnessing the power of ICTs, will greatly boost the competitiveness and financial health of our [&hellip (

Amazon launches an SME skills development programme in South Africa

On Monday, 11 November 2019, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of the AWS Equity Equivalent Investment Programme (AWS EEIP) – designed by AWS South Africa and Amazon Data Services South Africa. The AWS EEIP aims to see over R365 million invested in the development of sustainable 100 per cent black-owned South African small [&hellip (

Craig Mazin and Ted Elliott to Develop New ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Movie (

Watch Live Tonight – 2019 Internet Hall of Fame Ceremony (

INTERVIEW: Projects delivering technology for life in Africa

KOKO is a venture-backed technology company that believes communities thrive when each of their members is connected to opportunity. From product development and engineering projects to sustainable energy solutions, KOKO is on a mission to deliver technology for life in the world’s fastest-growing cities.  IT News Africa’s Jenna Cook had the opportunity to talk to [&hellip (

Huawei unveils socio-economic development project for Kenya

“The empowering use of ICT is closely connected to socio-economic development. Our 20 years of experience connecting rural communities in Africa has shown us that wireless broadband access is significantly changing the way we live and work in the digital world,” says Ritchie Peng, CMO of Huawei Wireless Solution, at the ITU Telecom World 2019. [&hellip (

SAP Africa announces entrepreneurial development initiatives at WEF

Preparing our youth for the uncertain future requires new thinking around issues of education and skills development, this according to Cathy Smith, MD for SAP Africa who was speaking at this year’s WEF Africa taking place from 4 to 6 September in Cape Town. The World Economic Forum believes nearly two-thirds of children entering school [&hellip (

RMI provides millions in loans to fin-tech Startups

Rand Merchant Investment (RMI) subsidiary, AlphaCode announced on Monday, 2 September 2019, that it has awarded just over $1.5 million in supplier development loans to three fintech startups, Zande Africa, Bright On Capital and Livestock Wealth. “We have granted Zande and Bright On, with whom we’ve been associated for over four years, around $658 thousand [&hellip (

Japan and African Development Bank announce $3.5 billion to support Africa’s private sector development

On 30 August 2019, Japan and the African Development Bank announced a joint target of $3.5 billion under the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa initiative (EPSA4). The announcement was made at the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7). Japan and the Bank have set a target of $1.75 billion each from [&hellip (

‘An Officer and a Spy’ Review: Roman Polanski Is No Emile Zola in This Listless Retelling of the Dreyfus Affair (

9mobile receives $230 million loan

Nigerian telecommunications company, 9mobile, has recently been approved for a $230 million loan by the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC). The AFC is a pan-African multilateral development financial institution that was created with the goal of minimizing Africa’s infrastructure investment gap via the provision of debt and equity finance, project development, financial and technical advisory services. [&hellip (

South Africa: Over 2000 school principals receive reporting mobile devices

Over 2000 Samsung Galaxy A30 devices were handed over to school headmasters across the Gauteng province on Tuesday, 13 August 2019. The devices support the administrative processes underpinning e-platforms and will become a focal point of communication between principals, districts and the department of education head office. The Gauteng MEC for Education and Youth Development, [&hellip (