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FESPACO 2021: 17 Films To Compete In Pan-African Festival

FESPACO Headquarters at Ouagadougou | Image: FESPACO

Seventeen films are in competition next month for the top prize at the 2021 edition of FESPACO, Africa’s top cinema and TV festival, organizers said Thursday.

FESPACO 2021 – the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou or Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou – is taking place in the Burkinabe capital from October 16-23. It was initially set for February 27-March 6 but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Seventeen feature-length works have been chosen from among 1,132 entries for the festival’s main competition, vying for the Golden Stallion of Yennenga for best film.

This year’s event is a “challenge to show that despite the health situation the continent continues to create, to dream, to be able to confront the ills that sap our societies,” the festival’s director Alex Moussa Sawadogo said at a presentation ceremony.

The directors of the 17 films hail from 15 countries across Africa, although there is just one from the host nation, Burkina Faso. Egypt has two contenders, and there is one each from Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania and Tunisia.

A 17th is from Haiti — reflecting this year’s theme “Cinemas of Africa and the Diaspora.”

The short film category includes 29 entries, both fiction and documentaries, with five from Burkina Faso and four from Senegal. The television series category has 17 entrants.

An international jury headed by Mauritanian producer Abderrahmane Sissako, who won France’s coveted Cesar in 2015 for “Timbuktu”, will select the prizewinner on October 23.

Created in 1969, it was first called the Pan-African film and television festival of Ouagadougou. It has evolved into an internationally recognized and respected event, closely followed by the US and European film industries, which scout the event for new films, talent and ideas. Alimata Salambere, the cultural minister of Burkina Faso from 1987 to 1991, was one of the founders of the festival. At its third edition in 1972, the festival was named FESPACO for short, keeping its full title as Festival pan-Africain du cinema et de la television de Ouagadougou. FESPACO was recognized formally as an institution by governmental decree on January 7, 1972. Its award ceremony and base of operations is Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, where the annual awards ceremony is also held.

Under its rules, films chosen for competition have to be made by Africans and predominantly produced in Africa.

The government has promised to do everything possible to protect festivalgoers.

Burkina Faso has been battered for the past six years by jihadist attacks from neighbouring Mali — the epicentre of a brutal insurgency that began in 2012 and has also hit Niger.

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