Extra: Masai Ujiri joins Basketball Africa League docuseries as EP; Abacus picks up UK flooding doc

Masai Ujiri joins Basketball Africa League docuseries as executive producer Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors vice-chairman and president, has joined a docuseries on the recently launched Basketball Africa League as an executive ...
October 28, 2021

Masai Ujiri joins Basketball Africa League docuseries as executive producer

Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors vice-chairman and president, has joined a docuseries on the recently launched Basketball Africa League as an executive producer.

Fremantle and Passenger are producing the series, which is directed by South African filmmaker Tebogo Malope. Ujiri will work alongside showrunner and executive producer Richard Brown, as well as executive producers Fisher Stevens and Akin Omotoso. BAFTA and Emmy winner Andy Worboys also joined the series as lead editor, along with archive producer Paul Bell.

Ujiri, who grew up in Zaria, Nigeria, is the architect behind the Raptors’ 2019 NBA championship, and serves as president of Giants of Africa, a non-profit he co-founded in 2003, which uses basketball to educate and enrich the lives of African youth. He has also been instrumental in the Basketball Without Borders program. Last May, the NBA launched NBA Africa as a standalone entity to conduct the league’s business in the continent.

“The very first time I was introduced to this project, I knew that I had to be a part of it,” Ujiri said in a news release. “As a young boy, I could have never imagined a professional basketball league, with opportunities for Africans both on and off the court, in my own backyard. The inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League marked a special event in the history of sports in Africa and I’m honoured to help showcase the unique journey that has brought us to this moment in time.”

The series covers the BAL’s creation, launch and first season. The league is a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation, and marks the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America. The BAL features 12 teams from across Africa: Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia.

The docuseries is part of Fremantle’s exclusive multi-year deal with Passenger.

Abacus Media Rights acquires It Takes a Flood doc on flooding in UK

Abacus Media Rights, a member of the Amcomri Media Group, has acquired worldwide distribution rights for It Takes a Flood, a Docsville Studios production.

The documentary is directed by Academy Award-winning Kevin Macdonald, Daniel Dewsbury and David Charap, and produced by Katie Buchanan and Lawrence Elman, for transmission on ITV on Nov. 2. The documentary shows viewers how increasingly larger and more damaging floods have hit the UK in recent years due to climate change.

Nick Fraser and Liz Thorburn serve as executive producers on the film, which was commissioned as part of ITV’s Climate Action Week.

The film also includes the work of Ravi Singh, who runs an international disaster relief charity, and has helped traumatized flood victims.

“Climate change is a huge issue with more and more extreme weather affecting the UK and the rest of the world.  Kevin Macdonald has a unique way of conveying the personal stories of those people who have suffered most and the shocking impact this has had on their lives,” said Jonathan Ford, managing director at Abacus Media Rights, in a statement.

Tabitha Jackson named BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award winner

Tabitha Jackson, director of the Sundance Film Festival and former arts commissioner at Channel 4, will be honored with the BBC Grierson Trustees’ Award at the 2021 British Documentary Awards.

Jackson was named director of the Sundance Film Festival in 2020. She is the first woman, person of color and person born outside of the U.S. to hold the position. Before that, from 2013 to 2020, Jackson served as Sundance’s director of the documentary film program.

“Tabitha Jackson is visionary and inspirational in her support of innovative documentary filmmaking,” said Lorraine Heggessey, chairman of The Grierson Trust. “Her position at the helm of Sundance bodes very well for the future of the global documentary industry.”

As well, documentary line producer Serena Kennedy has been named the first Grierson Hero of the Year. Kennedy worked on the Channel 4 series Take Your Knee Off My Neck about the impact of the killing of George Floyd, and the first BBC/Apple TV+ coproduction 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room. The award honors unsung heroes of documentary filmmaking.

The British Documentary Awards ceremony will be held on Nov. 10 in London. Former Grierson Trustee Award winners include Asif Kapadia, Dorothy Byrne, Louis Theroux, Sir David Attenborough, Alex Graham and Kevin Macdonald.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.