In Burkina Faso, ‘Fespaco is an act of resistance’ says Alex Moussa Sawadogo

By Eva Sauphie
Posted on Wednesday, 25 January 2023 10:31

Alex Moussa Sawadogo, General Delegate of the Pan-African Film Festival, on 21 October 2021. © Olympia de Maismont/AFP

Despite two coups d’état in Burkina Faso in the last year, the 28th edition of the continent’s largest Pan-African film festival will take place between 25 February and 4 March.

The Golden Stallion of Yennenga (Golden Stallion), chaired this year by Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha, will be contested by 15 films that are sure to create a difficult choice for the judges and Alex Moussa Sawadogo, its general delegate.

“We are dealing with a promising new generation, one with very good production quality that speaks to Africa as well as the rest of the world,” Sawadogo told us.

Among official selections are entries from Cameroon, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, Mozambique, Angola, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Algeria, and the Dominican Republic – the latter joining the class for the first time since the festival’s inception.

African cinematic diversity

In total, 1,200 films were viewed by the judges, and 170 cinema, television, documentary, and series works were selected to join the festival’s 11 different categories. “This selection will show the diversity of African cinema, with new forms of writing that will go against the grain, like what we’ve seen from Youssef Chebbi in Ashkal, or Ellie Foumb’s My Father, the Devil.”

Even with ongoing security issues being what they are in Burkina Faso due to the uncertain political situation, FESPACO’s selection committee has refused to give in to discouragement.

“We know our strength, especially after the [Covid-19] health crises of two years ago and how that made life for everyone. Despite this, we have brought together professionals,” Sawadogo says, holding on to his belief that cinema can lead to peace and reconciliation throughout the region, especially in the face of the ongoing jihadist threat.

We are dealing with a promising new generation, one with very good production quality that speaks to Africa as well as the rest of the world.

He continues: “African cinema and those of her diaspora have always been rooted in political thought, so this year’s FESPACO comes at a crucial moment in our collective crises, even as circumstances in Ukraine continue to escalate.

“Here, cinema professionals and the public from all around the world will gather to speak the universal language of art in favour of popular reconciliation. FESPACO is an act of resistance extending beyond the will of the authorities.”

Relations between Ouagadougou and Paris will also have a part to play in the environment surrounding the 28th FESPACO. Luc Hallale’s departure, as French ambassador to Burkina Faso, took place at the junta’s request and could call the historical partnership of the two states into question. Nevertheless, reaffirmed Sawadogo, “the National Centre of Cinema and Animated Images (CNC), Canal+, and TV5 Monde have each confirmed their support.”

Here, cinema professionals and the public from all around the world will gather to speak the universal language of art in favour of popular reconciliation.

If FESPACO may not be able to count on the French Institute this year, there must be a plan B. “A series of co-productions with France has been selected, and this is what matters. This ongoing quarrel has no impact on FESPACO’s content.

“This is a place that goes beyond political issues. Remember that this festival is, first and foremost, a space devoted to imagination and creation. Through this, political understanding has a glimmer of hope through dialogue.”

A poster of the 28th edition of the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou. © FESPACO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The official selection of films seeking the Golden Stallion of Yennenga:

  • Planting of Planters, by Dingha Eystin Young (Cameroon)
  • My Father, the Devil, by Ellie Foumb (Cameroon)
  • Ashkhal, by Youssef Chebbi (Tunisia)
  • Under The Fig Trees, by Erige Sehiri (Tunisia)
  • Sira, by Apoline Traoré (Burkina Faso)
  • Bantú Mama, by Ivan Herrera (Dominican Republic)
  • Mami Wata, by C.J. “Fiery” Obasi (Nigeria)
  • Maputo Nakuzandza, by Ariadine Zampaulo (Mozambique)
  • Our Lady of the Chinese Shop, by Ery Claver (Angola
  • Shimoni, by Angela Wamai (Kenya)
  • Simin Zetwal (Look at the Stars), by David Constantin (Mauritius)
  • The Blue Caftan, by Maryam Touzani (Morocco)
  • The Last Queen, by Damien Onouri (Algeria)
  • Xalé: The Pains of Childhood, by Moussa Séné Absa (Senegal)

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