By Lisa Vives
The much-awaited pan-African film festival opened on October 16 in Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou at the Palais des Sports with dancers, acrobats and celebrities, including Senegalese Grammy nominee Baaba Maal.
This year’s theme was Cinemas of Africa and the Diaspora: New perspectives, new challenges.
The Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) had been held up for eight-months due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and to unease due to an outbreak of Islamic militant attacks. A tribute to the country’s military and to former president and revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara was a special feature.
“It was important to postpone the festival,” Alex Moussa Sawadogo, delegate-general of the festival, said during the opening ceremony, saying it would not have been possible to get the quality of films had it been held in February.
Sawadogo called it a testament to the festival’s strength that it was able to go ahead this year—despite all the challenges.
Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Kabore, in a post on Twitter, said it was with pride that he gave the opening clap of FESPACO’s 27th edition.
Launched in 1969, the festival is held every two years and monitored by global industry players who scout the event for new films, productions, talents and ideas.
This year, up and coming filmmakers will try to find distributors at the African International Film & TV Market organization, an important venue for international distributors to purchase African films to be shown outside the continent. Over 200 films made by Africans and predominantly produced in Africa have been selected from around 1,132 productions for the week-long event.
Seventy films divided into six categories including feature films, short films, documentaries, animated films and school productions are in the official competition.
In the feature films category, 17 are competing, including Nigerian drama “Eyimofe (This is My Desire),” by twin brothers Arie Esiri and Chuko Esiri, which received positive reviews and won the 2021 Best Feature Narrative in the Philadelphia BlackStar Film Festival.
Other feature films include Narcise Wandji’s “Bendskins” from Cameroon; Mamadou Dia’s “Baamum Nafi” from Senegal; Desiree Kahipoko-Meiffret’s “The White Line” from Namibia; and Burkina Faso’s “The Three Lascars” by Boubakar Diallo.
The festival ends on October 23 with the award of the prestigious Stallion of Yennenga prize for the best film.