Fespaco: what you need to know about the 27th edition of the African cinema biennial

Between pandemic and security challenge, the 27th edition of the Pan-African Film and Ouagadougou television (Fespaco) opens its doors on October 16, 2021 in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

Postponement due to Covid-19

The pandemic will have forced Fespaco, which has always ruled out the idea of ​​staying online, to review its calendar. A major challenge for the new general delegate of the African Cinema Biennale, Alex Moussa Sawadogo. The festival which was initially to be held from February 27 to March 6, 2021 will finally be scheduled from October 16 to 23. In addition to the Covid-19, the terrorist threat in the Sahel also weighs on this event, which attracts some 200,000 people. Senegal is the guest of this 27th edition.

In numbers

The 2021 edition of Fespaco is the 27th since the creation of the Festival in 1969. Official since 1972, it becomes biennial in 1979. In 2021, 239 films were selected out of the 1,132 registered. In the official selection, the competition concerns fiction, documentary, animation, short films, school films and TV series. In the premier feature film category, 17 fictions and 15 documentaries are in the running for the Yennenga Gold Standard in their respective categories. The fiction jury is chaired by the Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako and that of the documentary by the Egyptian filmmaker Jihan El-Tahri.

17 fictions in the running for the Gold Standard

Air conditioner by Mario Bastos (Angola)
Baamum Nafi (Father of Nafi) by Mamadou Dia (Senegal)
Bendskins (Moto Taxi) by Narcisse Wandji (Cameroon)
Eyimofe (This is My Desire) by Chuko Esiri (Nigeria)
Farewell Amor Ekwa Msangi (Tanzania)
Feathers by Omar El Zohairy (Egypt)
Freda by Gessica Génus (Haiti)
The Gravedigger’s Wife of Khadar Ahmed (Somalia)
The Night of the Kings
by Philippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast)
The three lads by Boubakar Diallo (Burkina Faso)
Lingui, the sacred bonds by Mahamat Saleh Haroun (Chad)

Nameless (The Anonymous) of Mutiganda Wa Nkunda (Rwanda)
Oliver black of Tawfik Baba (Morocco)
Souad ofAmin Ayten (Egypt)
The White Line by Desiree Kahikopo-Meiffret (Namibia)
This is not a burial, it is a resurrection of Jeremiah Lemohang Mosese (Lesotho)
A story of love and desire by Leyla Bouzid (Tunisia)

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“This 27th edition would like to appear in a costume sewn with threads of continuity and rupture”, announces Alex Moussa Sawadogo in the Festival catalog. One of the big ruptures will undoubtedly have been an official communication on the Fespaco selection committee. Now in its fiftieth anniversary, the meeting place for African cinema is trying to get a makeover. The official selection has thus been enriched with two new sections: “Perspectives” which hosts first and second feature films and “Burkina” which, as its name suggests, is reserved for Burkinabè productions.

For “to reinforce” the International Market for African Cinema and Television (Mica), which will now take place at the Festival’s headquarters, Fespaco offers a professional component that comes in two types of workshops: the post-production Yennenga and the Yennenga Academy , ” A footbridge” for young people who aspire to make films. Also to accompany Mica, the 2021 edition is establishing a co-production market in partnership with the Durban FilmMart (which takes place during the Durban International Film Festival, in South Africa).

From a logistical point of view, the headquarters of Fespaco is now asserting itself as the nerve center of the festival. In addition to Mica, all Fespaco partners will be able to conduct their activities in a single space, the Yennenga Connexion. In the same vein, the cinemas where the various screenings will take place are now concentrated to allow festival-goers to go from one screening to another more easily. The establishment of open-air cinemas, which will allow the public to attend screenings in the outlying districts of Ouagadougou, confirms the popular dimension of Fespaco.

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