Seven short films aimed at combating COVID-19 misinformation have been produced by the 2020 cohort of the MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy, putting the talents of young African filmmakers to work on one of the biggest challenges of our time.
The films are part of the United Nations’ Pause campaign, a wider behaviour change campaign that aims to create a new social media norm to help combat the rising impact of viral misinformation. The short films will air on MultiChoice channels between 9 December and 31 December 2020. The MultiChoice Group is providing the airtime as part of its ongoing support of the campaign.
The filmmakers from Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe tackled the subject through a variety of approaches, often using humour and slang to deliver vital and punchy lifesaving messages that appeal to local viewers.
“We recognise the transformative power of media and the critical role we play to educate audiences about the dangers of misinformation through these short films, which have enabled us to share hyperlocal information with our audiences,” says Jabavu Heshu, Group Executive: Corporate Affairs, MultiChoice Group.
The MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) is MultiChoice’s flagship shared-value initiative launched in 2018 to ignite Africa’s creative film and TV industries through training and skills development. The MTF Academy is a 12-month fully funded training programme aimed at upskilling the next generation of passionate young film creatives. As the first touchpoint of the shared-value initiative, the MTF Academy’s one-of-a-kind curriculum is expertly executed under the guidance of regional Academy Directors Njoki Muhoho (East Africa hub), Berry Lwando (Southern Africa hub), Femi Odugbemi (West Africa hub) and Bobby Heaney (South Africa hub).
The Pause campaign is part of Verified, an initiative launched in May by the United Nations to communicate accessible science-backed health information in compelling formats and sharing stories of global solidarity around COVID-19. Pause is the first global behaviour change campaign on misinformation to mobilise experts and researchers, governments, influencers, civil society, businesses, regulators and the media under a single message. It is aimed at increasing media literacy to enable social media users to spot misinformation and stop themselves from passing it on.
The campaign is based on research that indicates that a brief pause significantly lessens the inclination to share shocking or emotive material thereby slowing the spread of misinformation. It aims to reach a global audience of 1 billion globally, online and through partnerships, by the end of December.
“We cannot successfully tackle the pandemic without also addressing online misinformation. We’re thrilled to be working with the talented young African filmmakers at the MultiChoice Talent Factory, who have brought such creativity and passion to this project,” said Robert Skinner Senior Adviser for Global Communications at the United Nations. “We hope young people across Africa will see themselves in these films and take action to help break the chain of misinformation by pausing before they share.”