- Laymen, analysts, decision-makers and film celebrities from all over Africa are vividly discussing all aspects of the African cinema at a large number of forums in Burkina Faso's capita, Ouagadougou, during the ongoing 19th Fespaco festival. But also other cultural events are promoted during the film festival, including the traditional Ouagadougou Fashion Show and a new photo exhibition.
During Fespaco 2005, Ouagadougou's Hotel Indpendance has turned out to be a real gold mine for searching out film professionals. Nearly all the filmmakers have accommodations there, except Fanta Nacro who is staying at the Palm Beach, reports Jim Ouattara of the festival's official 'Fespaco News' daily bulletin.
At Hotel Indpendance, filmmakers and other cinema professionals are constantly observed in deep and lighter conversations and discussions over the African film industry. Some festival-goers go to the hotel in order to get in touch with film celebrities. Others go to exchange views on films they have already seen.
The filmmakers reportedly are ready to meet all comers. Among the numerous directors accommodated at the hotel is the elder Sembene Ousmane, who always keeps the same room: Number One. Even Burkinabe filmmakers who have their families and houses in Ouagadougou have decided to move out and take accommodations with other filmmakers. "It's all for professional reasons," they hold.
Hotel Indpendance also provides for professional discussion forums among filmmakers and laymen. The debate forum of the Fespaco festival started on Monday at the hotel. "Le malentendu colonial" by the Cameroonian director Jean Marie Teno was the first film to be examined. The film raises once again the issue of colonisation.
- I have picked some elements from the history of Africa which I try to show to the world, Mr Teno told the discussion group in his introducing remarks. The next film to be examined was "Un amour d'enfant" by Ben N'Diogaye Bey from Senegal. Touching the issues of children and polygamy, the film created a debate on social awareness.
Also the hard facts about film production have their forums in Ouagadougou. The problems of film financing and distribution in Africa are addressed in several meetings among directors and decision-makers. During Fespaco 2005, African exhibitors have made their presence felt. Stakeholders are trying to revitalise a distribution programme of African movies known as 'Africa Cinéma' after a growing conflict with European film distributors.
The busy Fespaco week also includes a large number of presentation and seminars aimed at the filmmaking community. Yesterday, the UN organised a debate on "Cinema and Cultural Diversity" which led to a "high-powered debate," according to 'Fespaco News'.
On Sunday, the African International Film and TV Market started at the French Cultural Centre in downtown Ouagadougou. The Market, known by its French acronym MICA, provides a unique opportunity for industry regulars to meet each other, share experiences, build linkages and sign contracts as well.
For the layman visitor to the eight-day Fespaco festival, the main attraction naturally is the presentation of a unique mix of contemporary African films. Twenty movies are competing for the festival's top award and even more are screened at Ouagadougou cinemas and open-air scenes. Productions come from all over Africa, with especially many films from Burkina Faso, South Africa and the Maghreb.
Other cultural sectors are however not neglected. For many visitors and city dwellers, the Fashion Show night has established itself as one of the largest attractions at Fespaco. This year, the event will start this evening at the SIAO exhibition hall. Lydie Sirima Kaboré, who is in charge of the show, promises a fashion walk full of dreamy, colourful moments.
Big names in the world of fashion are to appear, Ms Kaboré promises. But also Burkinabe designer Martine Somda will be presenting costumes from African films, such as "Colére de dieux." Famous African designers, such as Bee and Ben from Ghana, Bineta Salsow from Senegal and Nicole Boni from Côte d'Ivoire are to unveil high quality standard and evening dresses.
While the Fashion Show night already has turned into an institution, the Fespaco festival this year for the first time includes a photo exhibition. These photos mostly include pictures of Burkinabe kings and landlords, displayed in a place known as the "L'Allée des rois". Most photos are historic documents of Burkinabe chiefs and kings.
Another novelty is the exhibition of caricaturists in the garden of the French Cultural Centre. Painter, caricaturist and set designer Hamidou Zoetaba and his team have displayed two collections of hilarious portraits featuring famous African filmmakers. The unusual exhibition known as "Cinegritude" comprises caricatures of among others Sembene Ousmane, Mamadou Djim Kola and Djibril Diop.
If this is not enough for visitors to the Fespaco festival, Ouagadougou still offers a tour of its famous shopping bazaar. At the Maison du Peuple, the temple of Burkinabe culture, a huge market is overflowing. Clothes, cosmetic products, traditional medicines, jewels, leather and bronze handicrafts as well as Fespaco gadgetry of any kind are exhibited at the shopping bazaar.
Finally, the Burkinabe capital is experiencing a booming nightlife during the film festival. All of Ouagadougou's famous maquis - bars - are well visited. From any bar stool, visitors can hear Ivorian music blaring from the speakers. The DJs, who are a band of modern griots straight out of African folklore, try to sing songs with the clients and sell more drinks.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.