Africa’s oldest movie festival, the Pan-African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO), began its 26th edition with a lot of fanfare on February 23rd in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
This edition marks the 50th year of the biennial event which began in February 1969 in the capital of the then state of Upper Volta. The Festival has featured 2,140 films till date and awarded 160 prizes.
This year’s edition is expected to attract about a hundred thousand people who would attend the 450 screenings on schedule.
For film-lovers, the challenge will be to make it to all viewings as there are at least 60 films showing, from 08:00 until late in the evening daily. In fact, some venues are showing more than one festival film at the same time. Ouagadougou has the largest number of viewing centres (9), though viewers can also screen some of the festival movies at centres in other major cities like Bobo Dioulasso and Ouahigouya.
As always, the jury’s main prize is the Etalon d’Or de Yennenga, the golden stallion named after a mythical princess. The award was last won at the 25th edition by Félicité, a French drama written and directed by Senegalese-French filmmaker Alain Gomis.
“Rafiki” by Kenya’s Wanuri Kahiu, a movie about lesbian affair that was temporarily banned in Kenya, which shown at the Cannes film festive in France, and Desrances, a film by Burkina Faso director Apolline Traore about the post-election violence in Ivory Coast in 2010-11 are the leading contenders for the top prize this year. The winner will be announced on Saturday.
Interestingly, this year’s award will, for the first time in history, recognize and give an award in the Animated Film category.
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