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FESPACO’s success has boosted cinema’s fortunes and made room for television.
W ith over 100 filmmakers in compet it ion, 35 jury members, hundreds of guests and dozens of feature, short, documentary and even animated films, FESPACO is more than ever the country’s showcase and flagship event. The landmark film festival created in 1969 still draws an enthusiastic following from Africa, Europe and the United States.
In 2013 its success prompted leading filmmakers from the continent and the diaspora to issue the “Ouagadougou Declaration”, which calls on “African heads of State to move from political will to political decisions by setting up a box-office receipt fund in each country to increase production.” FESPACO director Michel Ouédraogo has announced that for the next festival the three Stallions’ prizes will double and the official feature film competition will accept digital films and movies from the diaspora. Meanwhile, former Minister of Culture Mahamoudou Ouédraogo calls for “taxes on DVDs and mobile phones as well as a commitment from national television to fund cinema.” Producer/distributor Rodrigue Kaboré’s rigorous management and the arrival of digital technology, which has cut filmmaking costs, have given the capital’s main two cinemas, the Neerwaya and the Burkina, a new lease of life. Director Idrissa Ouédraogo (Yaaba, Tilaï, etc.), a digital champion, stresses “the need to teach young people how to use this special technology.”
The Oubri, a beautiful open-air cinema in downtown Ouagadougou, has closed. The Guimbi, Bobo-Dioulasso’s last cinema, depends on public-spirited contributions to survive. In seven months Cinomade, a group led by documentary filmmaker Berni Goldblat and Salimata Sankara, has enlisted the support of institutions such as Africadoc and the Swiss government to keep it open. Movie stars from Burkina Faso and elsewhere, as well as FESPACO, have made donations in return for having their names put on seats.
TELEVISION A SERIES OF SUCCESSES
This year FESPACO has devoted a section, and even a whole night, to television series. Waga Love, a show Guy-Desire Yaméogo created about young Ouagadougou residents’ adventures revolving around a matchmaking agency, won the jury’s special prize for Burkina Faso. TV5 has already pre-purchased 50 episodes. Burkina Faso’s television network is now branching out into co-production and sponsors are breaking down the door. The network is producing its own series, Affaires publiques (Public Affairs), about good governance, and has participated in the production of Testament, a series by Apolline Traoré (see p. XIV) whose popular and financial success enabled her to finance her second feature, I, Zaphira.
By Sarah ELKAÏM
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