From Saturday 23 to Saturday 2 March 2019 Burkina Faso will come alive with the Pan-African Festival of Cinema and Television (FESPACO 2019). This 26th edition also marks the 50th anniversary of FESPACO which was first launched in Ouagadougou in 1969, the capital of then Upper Volta. However, the biennial festival is now a pilgrimage of some sorts for African filmmakers. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Confronting our memory and forging the future of a pan-African cinema in its essence, its economy and its diversity.” Explaining the theme, the organizers said,
“…[it’s about] putting African cinema and African filmmakers at the center of our concerns.”
This year 20 feature films will be competing. The list of the 20 films was earlier unveiled in January at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris by Ardiouma Soma, the General Delegate of FESPACO. However, Soma also explained the rigorous selection process,
“…the majority of the films that were submitted to us were of quality. [Therefore] this is what brings us to present this selection a little late because the work was really difficult to make the choice of films. We cannot show in a week all the quality films we have received.”
The challenges of filmmaking in Africa
Three of the selected 20 films are from Burkina Faso. In total, there are 7 categories cut across TV series, documentary, fiction, animation films, and African film schools. Soma added that about 165 films were selected in total to cover all the categories,
“And we have selected 21 documentary feature films that, for the first time, will also compete for the Yennenga Gold Standard in their category.”
There will be a series of workshops at the 26th FESPACO event. The workshop will give filmmakers the opportunity to talk about the challenges and changes in the industry.
The festival keeps an eye for the best African film that has told an African story in a distinctive way. However, the hallmark of the event is the award of Etalon de Yennenga for the best feature film. The golden statue represents the stallion of Yennenga, a beautiful African princess and cultural icon who was also a very independent woman and a fierce warrior. She is considered by the Mossi to be the mother of their Empire.
The finalist vying for the award this year’s award are:
#1 – Five Fingers for Marseille – A South African Xhosa western movie. 20 years earlier, ‘Five Fingers’ fought for the rural town of Marseilles, against brutal police oppression. Now, after fleeing in disgrace, freedom-fighter-turned-‘outlaw’ Tau returns to Marseilles, seeking only a peaceful pastoral life. When he finds the town under a new threat, he must reluctantly fight to free it.
#2 – Keteke – This is a move about the impromptu adventure of a Ghanaian couple who want to have their baby in Atswei’s village. They miss the only train to Atswei which runs weekly, forcing them to seek alternative transportation and launching them on an unexpected journey through rural Ghana.
#3 – Miraculous Weapon – This is a story based in South Africa of three women and the death row convict they are all in love with.
#5 – Alain Gomis, a French-Senegalese director, took the prize in the last edition (2017) for the film Félicité.
Are you attending the FESPACO 26th? Share the experience with us in the comment box below.
3 Nigerian Authors Make The 16 Author Longlist For The Most Prestigious Literary Prize In The UK For Women
The Women’s Prize for Fiction is the most prestigious literary prize in the United Kingdom. Formerly known as the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the prize goes to female authors of any nationality for full-length English novel published in the United Kingdom the preceding year. There are 163 entries this year but the judges painstakingly cut it down to 16. However, three Nigerian authors (Oyinkan Braithwaite, Akwaeke Emezi, and Diana Evans) made it to the longlist.
The Women’s Prize for Fiction was founded in 1996. The inspiration for the prize was prompted by the 1991 Booker Prize which sidelined female authors in the six shortlisted books. However, that year it was on record that sixty percent of books were by female authors. That event made journalists, librarians, booksellers, agents, and publishers to take action.
About the prize and judging panel
The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction will go home with £30,000 and a bronze sculpture, ‘Bessie’. Consequently, this year’s award ceremony will take place on June 5 in Central London. This year’s judging panel consists of Sarah Wood (a digital entrepreneur), Leyla Hussein (campaigner and psychotherapist), Dolly Alderton (author, broadcaster, and columnist), and Arifa Akbar (journalist and critic). The chairperson of this year’s judging panel is Professor Kate Williams. In a statement after the release of the longlist, Williams said,
“I am thrilled to share this longlist – 16 incredible books by a diverse group of women, from the UK and countries across the world, all brilliant stories that sweep you into another world. Each of them has been a privilege to read, and they have taken us into places a million miles from each other, exploring the lives of women and men in so many different but utterly compelling ways.”
Brief bio of the Nigerian authors and summary of their stories
Oyinkan Braithwaite is a Kingston University graduate of Creative Writing and Law. In 2016 her story was part of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist. “My Sister, the Serial Killer” explores the tale of Korede, whose younger sister Ayoola kills her boyfriends in the name of self-defense. Korede loves her sister and finds it difficult reporting to the police. All that changes when Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede is in love with the doctor and doesn’t want him to be one of Ayoola’s victims. However, saving one will mean sacrificing the other.
Diana Evans is a Nigerian-British novelist living in London. She has three novels to her name. “Ordinary People” follows the tale of two couples at the brink of revolution or surrender. Everything changes when Melissa gives birth to a new baby. Michael still loves her but is finding it hard to stay faithful. In the suburbs, Stephanie and Damian are happy with their three children until the death of Damian’s father.
Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer. “Freshwater,” tells the story of Ada, a child prayed into existence. Her parents struggle to contain the contradictory and volatile spirits within her. While in college an assault leads to crystallization of her selves. Subsequently, Ada’s life takes a dangerous and dark dimension.
Books and their authors that made it to the longlist this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction include;
- The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
- Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton
- My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
- The Pisces by Melissa Broder
- Milkman by Anna Burns
- Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
- Ordinary People by Diana Evans
- Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
- Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lilian Li
- Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
- Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
- Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden
- Circe by Madeline Miller
- Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
Freshwater is first non-binary inclusion
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi earlier in 2018 won the Quartz Africa’s as the best African book. The inclusion of Emezi’s ‘Freshwater’ is the first time a non-binary trans author will make it to the long list of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The same day of the longlist announcement, the competition judges published an editorial believed to put an end to the controversy surrounding the inclusion of the novel on the list. Reacting to the novel, one of the judges, Arifa Akbar said,
“Emezi’s novel takes the conversation about female-only spaces and non-binary identities out of an often inward-looking, white, Western enclave, to give it new meaning.”
Past African winners
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the only African to have won the coveted Women’s Prize for Fiction (then Orange Prize for Fiction). The multiple-award-winning writer took home the prize in 2007 for her novel, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. If Oyinkan Braithwaite, Akwaeke Emezi or Diana Evans should win, it will be the second time the prize will come to Africa. The announcement for the shortlist will be on April 29.
Yomif Kejelcha Has Set A New 1-Mile Indoor World Record
Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha on Sunday 3rd March set a new 1-mile indoor world record. The previous record was set in 1997 by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj. Yomif Kejelcha finished at 3:47.01 to break the previous record of 3:48.45. Three weeks earlier, Kajelcha came close to breaking the record but missed by hundredth of a second with a time of 3:48.46.
3:47.01 NEW INDOOR MILE WORLD RECORD!@OregonPJT
— RunnerSpace.com (@RunnerSpace_com) March 3, 2019
The 21-year old runner trumped the former record by 1.44 seconds in Boston. Yomif Kejelcha who is a two-time champion of 3000m came to Boston with the intention of breaking the 1500m and 1-mile world record. Although he missed the former, his split time of 3:31.25 is the third-best all-time indoor behind Tefera and El Guerrouj.
Yomif Kejelcha’ lap performance at the race
The race began with Sowinski, the indoor bronze medalist leading. However, Kajelcha got his big break from the pack after the first 409 meters. The indoor 1-mile record is one of the longest in tracks and field. Yomif Kejelcha cruised through the 809m in 1:52, leaving no doubt about his intention. He hit the bell at 3:18.54 and ran a time of 28.47 in the last lap to break the 22-year old record. Second-placed Johnny Gregorek also put himself second on all-time America indoor list with 3:49.98.
After crossing the finish line, Yomif Kejelcha did not hide his joy. The moment the result was displayed on the scoreboard he did a series of celebratory jumps amid the cheering crowd. This was a clear contrast to his mood after the Millrose Games miss on February 9. Yomif Kejelcha current record shows great improvement from his 2018 season.
Other Africans that hold world records
Africans fare well in the track and fields and Yomif Kejelcha is another addition to the record book. Both in the male and female categories, a large number of Africans hold the world record. In the indoor men’s category, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele holds both the 2000 meters, Two miles, and 5000 meters world record set in 2007, 2008 and 2004 respectively. This also makes him the highest African world record holder in the indoor long distance category.
In the female category, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba has no rival in the long distance race. Dibaba holds the world record for the 1500 meters, 1-mile, 2000 meters, 3,000 meters, Two miles, and 5,000 meters. However, her most recent record was in 2,000 meters in 2017.
FESPACO 2019 highlights and Winners
The 26th edition of Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) has come and gone leaving valuable memories and lessons behind. Hitherto, the biennial event of international renown promotes African cinemas. However, this year’s edition also marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration. The weeklong event ran from February 23rd to March 2nd.
During the festival, a statue of ex-Burkina Faso president, Thomas Sankara was unveiled. The five meters high bronze statue was built close to where he died. Till date, Sankara holds a dear position as an icon of pan-Africanism. He also played a prominent role in the success of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou (FESPACO). Present for the unveiling ceremony were dignitaries within and outside the country. This includes former Ghanaian president, John Rawlings and Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore. Reacting to the monument Rawlings said,
“We have emotions on this site but we need to capitalize on these emotions to move forward. Those who fell here remind us that we are fighting for freedom and justice”.
Roundtable on African women in the cinema industry
Various reputable side events happen at FESPACO events. Consequently, one of the events at the 26th edition was the roundtable on African women in the cinema industry. Held on the 4th day, high-profile dignitaries including Espérance Nyirasafari, Rwanda’s Minister for Sports and Culture were in attendance. The theme of the roundtable was “50 years of FESPACO: 50/50 for Women, equality, and diversity in African Cinema”.
However, Burkina Faso First Lady, Sika Kabore, Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Burkina Faso, Abdoul Karim Sango, and Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay also participated at the round table. At the “Visit Rwanda” stand, First Lady Kabore said,
“I am highly impressed by what Rwanda has achieved in such a short period of time. These beautiful pictures on the walls make you want to visit Rwanda.”
The Golden Stallion of Yennenga Award
The high point of the festival is the award of the Golden Stallion of Yennenga. Twenty movies made the shortlist for the award. However, Joel Karekezi’s “The Mercy of the Jungle” took it home. Karekezi is a Rwandan director and the movie discusses the DRC war through the eyes of two soldiers lost in the jungle. Consequently, Belgian Marc Zinga also won the best actor for his role in the movie.
“Karma” by Egyptian director, Khaled Youssef scooped the second prize. “Fatwa” by Tunisian director Ben Hohmound took the third prize. Fatwa explores the emotions of a father who finds out his son was a jihadist after his death.
Ecobank Foundation Sembène Ousmane Prize
The Ecobank prize at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou Film Festival (FESPACO) goes to the movie judged to portray the most positive image of Africa. However, the prize is only exclusive to countries where Ecobank operates. “Miraculous weapon” director, Jean-Pierre Bekolo won a bronze trophy and XOF 5,000,000 ($8500) for winning the award. Reacting to the award, the Chief Operating Officer of the Ecobank Foundation, Carl Manlan said,
“I have no doubt that Ousmane Sembène, who is rightly… one of Africa’s greatest authors and as the ‘father of African film’, would have been thoroughly engrossed by the storyline of “Miraculous weapons” and how it displays Africa in a positive light.”
Full list of winners
- GOLDEN STALLION: The Mercy of the Jungle by Joel KAREKEZI (Rwanda)
- SILVER STALLION: Karma by Khaled YOUSSEF (Egypt)
- BRONZE STALLION: Fatwa by Mahmoud BEN MAHMOUD (Tunisia)
- BEST ACTOR: Marc Zinga in The Mercy of the Jungle by Joel KAREKEZI (Rwanda)
- BEST ACTRESS: Samantha Mugatsia in Rafiki by Wanuri KAHUI (Kenya)
- THE BEST SCRIPT: Regarde-moi (Look at me) by Nejib BELKHADI (Tunisia)/Keteke by Peter SEDUFIA (Ghana)
- BEST IMAGE: Mabata Bata by Joao Luis SOL DE CARVALHO (Mozambique)
- BEST SOUND: Karma by Khaled YOUSSEF (Egypt)
- THE BEST MUSIC: Sew the Winter To My Skin by Jahmil XT Qubeka (South Africa)
- BEST SET: Desrances by Apolline TRAORE (Burkina Faso)
- BEST EDITING: Mabata Bata by Joao Luis SOL DE CARVALHO (Mozambique)
- OUMAROU GANDA PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST FEATURE: Jusqu’à la fin des temps Yasmine Chouikh (Algeria)
- GOLDEN FOAL: Black Mamba by Amel GUELLATY (Tunisia)
- SILVER FOAL: Une place dans l’avion by Khadidiatou SOW (Sénégal)
- BRONZE FOAL: Un air de Kora by Angèle DIABANG (Sénégal)
- GOLDEN STALLION: Le loup d’or de Baolé by Aïcha Boro (Burkina Faso)
- SILVER STALLION: Au temps où les arabes dansaient by Jawad RHALIB (Morocco)
- BRONZE STALLION: Whispering Truth To Power by Shameela SEEDAT (South Africa)
- DIASPORA PRIZE PAUL ROBESON: Meu amigo Fela (Mon ami Fela) by Joel Zito ARAUJO (Brazil)
- GOLDEN FOAL: Against all odds (Contre toute attente) by Charity Resian NAMPASO/ Andréa IANNETTA (Kenya)
- SILVER FOAL: Zanaka-Teny Nomen’i Felix (Ainsi parlait Félix) by Nantenaina LOVA (Madagascar)
- BRONZE FOAL: Tata Milouda by Nadja HAREK (Algeria)
- FIRST PRIZE: Petites Histoires, Grandes Vérités (PHGV) by Ambrose B. COOKE (Ghana)
- SECOND PRIZE: Blog by Akre Loba Diby MELYOU (Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast)
- FIRST PRIZE: Briska by Nadia RAIS (Tunisia)
- SECOND PRIZE: A kalabanda ate my homework by Raymond MALINGA (Uganda)
- JURY AWARD: Da Tsysy Da by Tojo Niaina RAJAOFERA (Madagascar)
- FIRST PRIZE: Incompris by Jaurès KOUKPEMEDJI from l’Institut Supérieur des Métiers de l’Audiovisuel (ISMA) – Bénin
- SECOND PRIZE: Maison de retraite by N. Ismaël Césaire KAFANDO from l’Institut Supérieur de l’image et du Son/ Studio Ecole / ISIS/SE – Burkina Faso
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