From Saturday 23 to Saturday 2 March 2019 Burkina Faso will come alive with the Pan-African Festival of Cinema and Television (FESPACO 2019). This 26th edition also marks the 50th anniversary of FESPACO which was first launched in Ouagadougou in 1969, the capital of then Upper Volta. However, the biennial festival is now a pilgrimage of some sort for African filmmakers. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Confronting our memory and forging the future of a pan-African cinema in its essence, its economy and its diversity.” Explaining the theme, the organizers said,
“… putting African cinema and African filmmakers at the center of our concerns.”
This year 20 feature films will be competing. The list of the 20 films was earlier unveiled in January at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris by Ardiouma Soma, the General Delegate of FESPACO. However, Soma also explained the rigorous selection process,
“…the majority of the films that were submitted to us were of quality. this is what brings us to present this selection a little late because the work was really difficult to make the choice of films. We cannot show in a week all the quality films we have received.”
The challenges of filmmaking in Africa
Three of the selected 20 films are from Burkina Faso. In total, there are 7 categories cut across TV series, documentary, fiction, animation films, and African film schools. Soma added that about 165 films were selected in total to cover all the categories,
“And we have selected 21 documentary feature films that, for the first time, will also compete for the Yennenga Gold Standard in their category.”
There will be a series of workshops at the 26th FESPACO event. The workshop will give filmmakers the opportunity to talk about the challenges and changes in the industry.
The festival keeps an eye for the best African film that has told an African story in a distinctive way. However, the hallmark of the event is the award of Etalon de Yennenga for the best feature film. The golden statue represents the stallion of Yennenga, a beautiful African princess and cultural icon who was also a very independent woman and a fierce warrior. She is considered by the Mossi to be the mother of their Empire.
The finalist vying for the award this year’s award are:
#1 – Five Fingers for Marseille – A South African Xhosa western movie. 20 years earlier, ‘Five Fingers’ fought for the rural town of Marseilles, against brutal police oppression. Now, after fleeing in disgrace, freedom-fighter-turned-‘outlaw’ Tau returns to Marseilles, seeking only a peaceful pastoral life. When he finds the town under a new threat, he must reluctantly fight to free it.
#2 – Keteke – This is a move about the impromptu adventure of a Ghanaian couple who want to have their baby in Atswei’s village. They miss the only train to Atswei which runs weekly, forcing them to seek alternative transportation and launching them on an unexpected journey through rural Ghana.
#3 – Miraculous Weapon – This is a story based in South Africa of three women and the death row convict they are all in love with.
#5 – Alain Gomis, a French-Senegalese director, took the prize in the last edition (2017) for the film Félicité.
Are you attending the FESPACO 26th? Share the experience with us in the comment box below.