Best Narrative Film
Best Production Design
and many more…
Vaillante is Rooftop’s award-winning 3 part miniseries, long format storytelling specifically designed for entertainment. It’s played at festivals worldwide, had several international cinema screenings and has also been broadcast on Canal plus.
Sometime in 2016, Rooftop started a journey that would eventually lead to the production of Vaillante. It was triggered by a desire to reach new, highly engaged audiences with content that genuinely can impact behaviours. The volume of content on social media makes it tough for your cause to stand out, and tougher to engage audiences on an emotive level with videos that are one to two minutes long. This is where television offers something that social media doesn’t. Long-form content that allows you to engage with a character-driven story and understand the nuances and complexities of social settings.
Here’s where UNICEF comes in. Rooftop creates a lot of video content for UNICEF on some of the most devastating issues that impact children. One of these issues is child marriage; a complex practice that often robs young girls of their physical health, mental health and education. 650 million girls around the world are married before their 18th birthdays, 115 million of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Having worked on numerous child marriage videos before, we understood that it would be impossible to communicate the full extent of why this is happening, how it impacts the girls (and communities), as well as what audiences should do about it. So when UNICEF requested a long-format, edutainment driven story on the topic of child marriage, we jumped at the opportunity.
Rooftop has developed a reputation for closely collaborating with its clients, resulting in work that expresses the full extent of the clients knowledge on the topic. This project was no different. Working with UNICEF offices in Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and New York, we set about to write a fictional story, inspired by real-life scenarios and culturally relevant to its target audience – West Africa. The script was then translated into French, the language in which the series would be filmed.
The production crew, comprising mostly of full-time Rooftop team members, set about on a challenging pre-production period. The challenge of shooting a series set in West Africa in South Africa was one thing, but doing it all in 2021 whilst in and out of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions was another thing altogether. Through tremendous effort, and despite global travel bans, we were able to find a strong cast of French actors, many of whom had little to no prior acting experience. The 24-day shoot, however, split between Gqberha and Steytlerville in the Eastern Cape, went off as smoothly as anyone could have hoped. Cast and crew alike were exhausted by the end of it but energised by the experience of working on something that was both so creatively challenging and thematically significant.
The following months saw an extension of Rooftop’s expertise as all of the post-production, including editing, sound design, colour grading, and music composition was all handled in-house. Furthermore, Rooftop created an English dubbed version to expand the potential audience. This saw many of the original, bi-lingual cast as well as some professional voice actors to Rooftop’s sound studio.
The finished three-part miniseries is a powerful story that has been met with exceptionally positive reviews from audiences and critics alike. In December 2021, Vaillante had its world premiere at the prestigious FESPACO film festival in Burkina Faso. This was followed shortly after by national premieres at cinemas in New York, South Africa and Niger. Since its release late in 2021, it has been screened at nine film festivals around the world, racking up multiple award nominations. In March 2022, the series was broadcast on Canal Plus, a major television broadcaster in French-speaking Africa. Even now, months after its release, Vaillante is being considered for a theatrical release through Canal Olympia cinema chain, and it is also closing in on worldwide streaming opportunities.
The longevity of its shelf life alone is worth considering when weighing up the impact of Vaillante. Numbers-wise, Vaillante racked up an impressive 60 million social media impressions between its launch in December and broadcast in March. But its true impact is much harder to measure. Did it succeed in influencing behaviour? Was it a positive contribution to a conversation about a complicated topic? In the coming months, we will be working with UNICEF and Creative Culture to conduct focus groups to try to answer these questions. For now, though, our hope is that this story at least starts a conversation that may not have been spoken of before. As the lead character, Sali, says; “We can’t move past these concerns until we talk about it”.
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