Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco)

Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco)
The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou), commonly referred to as FESPACO, is an international film festival held biennially in the capital of Burkina Faso. It focuses on promoting works by African filmmakers and mainly produced in Africa.

The inaugural edition of the festival was held in 1969. One of its founders was Alimata Salambere, future Minister of Culture of Burkina Faso. The program included films made in five African states: Upper Volta (known as Burkina Faso since 1984), Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Niger and Senegal as well as a number of films from France and the Netherlands. A total of 23 films were screened.

At the second edition, the number of participating African countries increased as Algeria, Ghana, Guinea, Mali and Tunisia participated for the first time. The program including 40 films. In 1972, the festival’s name was shortened to FESPACO for the first time. The 3rd edition was also the first one to host the official competition. The first film to win the best film award was Le Wazzou polygame by Nigerien filmmaker Oumarou Ganda. Since 1983, the festival has also honored achievements in the African television industry.

The main goal of FESPACO is to promote and support African cinema and television. It also aims to create a market for African industry professionals. While competitive screenings are held in Ouagadougou, FESPACO also organizes non-profit screenings in rural areas in order to facilitate the distribution of African films. The festival also hosts MICA (Le Marche International du Cinema et de la television Africaine), a film market that gives industry professionals from all over Africa an opportunity to network.

At FESPACO, several awards are given out. The most prestigious one is called the Stallion of Yennenga (Étalon de Yennenga). It was name after a legendary African princess considered the mother of the Mossi people, the largest ethnic group in Burkina Faso. It is awarded to the film that best portrays the realities of Africa. Other awards include the Oumarou Ganda Award for the best debut film and the Paul Robeson Award for the best film by a director of the African diaspora.

Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou

Photo: Siegfried Forster / RFI




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