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Monday, November 19, 2012

Filming wraps in Freetown

Co-director Ngardy Conteh (in profile) and cinematographer Colin Akoon prepare to film inside a player's home, a windowless 64-square-foot room. 
Leone Stars just wrapped up filming in Sierra Leone.  The fourth and last shoot took place earlier this month in steamy weather, topping 42C each day and 36C at night on the humidex, mostly in the capital of Freetown.  For nearly two weeks, co-directors Ngardy Conteh and Allan Tong with cinematographer Colin Akoon and local fixer Hashmiyun Magona filmed various amputee soccer players at their homes and workplaces, streets and villages.  Here are some images from the shoot:
The Freetown team sqaures off against the Bo team on their turf, in the interior of the country.  Final score: 1-1.
Freetown captain, Bornor, training to be a generator repairman.  
Almost all Sierra Leoneans run diesel-powered generators, because the electric grid is so unreliable.

Cinematographer Colin Akoon mounts a light steadicam unit to the back of a moving motorcycle taxi ("okada") 
to follow an amputee also travelling by okada.

Mohammed of Freetown's team being interviewed in his office, owned by a German company.  
Mohammed supports a young child alone.

The aunt of the Bo provincial team captain, Umaru, interviewed as she cooks in her smoky hut.  
From top left to lower left: intern Amanta, cinematographer Colin Akoon, fixer Hashmiyun "Hash" Magona 
and co-director Ngardy Conteh.

Following Bornor's weekly jog from the back of our Toyota 4x4.  
Amid traffic, Bornor runs for one hour from his home in Freetown's Leceister Peak to Aberdeen Beach.

The steering wheel of a mini-bus in Freetown.
Cinematographer Colin Akoon panning atop a hill near Fort Street in downtown Freetown.  
In one minute, he will be covered in heavy rain.
Fixer extraordinaire, Hashmiyun "Hash" Magona
A shantytown in overcrowded Freetown where few enjoy running water and where cholera struck last summer.
The sun sets over Aberdeen Beach as the Freetown amputees wind down their Sunday practice.

All photos by Allan Tong and cannot be reproduced without Allan's strict permission.

Friday, May 18, 2012

New producer joins Leone Stars filmmaking team

Katarina Soukup has joined the Leone Stars filmmaking team to help directors Allan Tong and Ngardy Conteh produce.  Mattru Media, founded by Ngardy, is producing Leone Stars.  Katarina runs a thriving documentary production company out of Montreal, Catbird Productions, and pitched at last year's Hot Docs Forum.  She brings with her years of experience in documentary producing and much-needed business prowess.  Learn more about Katarina at

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Leone Stars to pitch at Hot Docs Forum


March 28, 2012, Toronto – Leone Stars has been selected to pitch at the prestigious Forum at the Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival. 

The documentary is one of 25 projects and one of four Canadian ones that Hot has chosen from 150 submissions worldwide.  On May 2-3, filmmaking teams will present their films-in-progress to an exclusive audience of international broadcasters, distributors and other documentary buyers.  Teams aim to secure financing and broadcast licenses from the audience.  The Forum is a key market for documentaries in the world.  Admission is by pass only.

The Hot Docs Forum will take place on May 2-3, 2012 at Hart House on the University of Toronto campus downtown.  Teams of filmmakers have seven minutes to present their documentaries, followed by eight minutes of moderated roundtable discussion from the audience.

Yesterday's announcement is the latest success for Leone Stars, which was the first-ever documentary to win the coveted Pitch This! competition at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto last September, followed by funding from the Sundance Institute as well as fellowships for directors/producers Ngardy Conteh and Allan Tong.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Donate to the LEONE STARS documentary

Donations are welcome to the Leone Stars documentary.
Five percent of funds will literally go into the hands of the amputee soccer players of Sierra Leone when the filmmakers meet them on their periodic shoots.

We're making this film with grants, fundraising like Kickstarter, and our own money.
To date, nobody on the crew has been paid.

As a thank-you, anybody in Canada who donates C$50 or more will receive this t-shirt:

Americans who donate C$60 or more will receive a shirt.
Those living outside North America: C$70 to cover postage costs.

To order: please email leonestarsdoc [at]
and state your name, address and shirt size. We have S, M, L, XL.
Expect 4-5 weeks to process your order, since we order shirts in batches.
God bless.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sundance invites LEONE STARS on fellowship

The Sundance Film Festival has invited Leone Stars directors Allan Tong and Ngardy Conteh to attend its January festival on the Documentary Fellows Program.

The film festival, founded by Robert Redford, runs January 19-29 in Park City, Utah. Leone Stars was one of 10 international docmaking teams (and the only Canadian one) chosen for the DFP. The DFP encourages invited filmmaking teams to network and raise funding for their projects. The fellowship comes on the heels of a Sundance grant to Leone Stars in November.

Among other events, Allan and Gad look forward to attending the premieres of the docs made by Canadians Yung Chang (China Heavyweight) and Jennifer Baichwal (Payback).

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Two film shoots, TIFF Pitch This, Sundance...
Thank you for supporting the filmmakers of LEONE STARS through a successfully year. Here's to an even better 2012!