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Fespaco 2013: Burkina Faso welcomes Africa’s biggest film festival


Ouagadougou hosts major celebration of African cinema

FESPACO headquarters, Ouagadougou (Picture: Sputniktilt)

The 23rd Fespaco opened in Burkina Faso on February 24th, with 101 films vying for the top Etalon d’Or prize. Nearly 170 films from all over the continent were shown during the week-long bi-annual festival, which ended on March 2nd.

Opening the festival Sunday night was Yema, a tale of the life of a mother who suspects jihadists to be infiltrating her family. The main character is played by the film’s Algerian director Djamila Sahraoui.

All of the juries for the different categories were presided over this year by women, with the jury for the Etalon d’Or headed by French cinema legend Euzhan Palcy.

According to Fespaco organiser Michel Ouedraogo, “women have carried African cinema both behind and in front of the camera but Africa has not given them anything back.”

“We have to give women greater visibility and a bigger role in promoting African cinema,” he said.

This year’s theme focused on African cinema and politics while the 2013 guest of honour was Gabon, which presented a seven-film retrospective of its cinema.

It was announced on March 2nd that the Etalon d’Or had been won by French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis for his film Aujourd’hui (Today)  about a man who knows he will die at the end of the day.

Aujourd’hui follows Satche, played by American hip-hop artist and slam poet Saul Williams, on what he and those close to him somehow know will be the last day of his life.

The film took Fespaco’s top prize at the closing ceremony before an audience of some 15,000 people in Ouagadougou’s main stadium. Williams also won the best actor prize for his near-silent role in the film, which was an official selection at the Berlin 2012 film festival.

The second prize went to Yema.

Nearly 170 films from all over the continent were shown during the week-long bi-annual festival, which was launched in 1969.

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