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Title: Fespaco  
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The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou or FESPACO) is the largest African film festival, held biennially in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The festival is the biggest regular cultural event on the African continent and it mostly focuses on the African film and African filmmakers. FESPACO starts two weeks after the last Saturday of February with the opening night in the Stade du 4-Août, which is the national stadium. It is hugely successful.

The festival is for African film industry professionals offering them the chance to establish working relationships, exchange ideas and to promote their work. FESPACO's stated aim is to "contribute to the expansion and development of African cinema as means of expression, education and awareness-raising". Since FESPACO's founding, the festival has attracted visitors from across the continent and beyond.[1]


Created in 1969, the Pan-African film and television festival of Ouagadougou has evolved into an internationally recognized and respected event in not only the African continent but in the world at large.[1] Alimata Salambere, the cultural minister of Burkina Faso from 1987 to 1991 was one of the founders of FESPACO. At its third edition in 1972, the name of the festival became FESPACO (Festival Pan-Africain du Cinema et de la Television de Ouagadougou). FESPACO became an institution by governmental decree on January 7, 1972. In that year, the first official winner of the best film award was Le Wazzou Polygame by Oumarou Ganda of Niger. Since then, the best film award has been won by directors from Cameroon, Morocco, Mali, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Evolution from 1969 to 2006

At its creation in 1969, only five African countries—Senegal, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Ivory Coast, Niger and Cameroon—were represented, and also France and the Netherlands, and only 23 films were shown. At its second edition, the participant countries rose from five to nine—Algeria, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Upper Volta (Now Burkina Faso) and Ghana—with 40 films shown. In 1983, the festival included MICA (le Marche International du Cinema et de la television Africaine), which is a market for African film stock and video footage.

From 1985 onward, the festival adopted different themes for the event, starting with "the cinema, people, and liberation". The theme for 2007's festival is "the actor in the creation and promotion of African films".[2] As the festival became more prominent, its budget and sponsors increased; the donor countries now include Burkina Faso, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Republic of China, and the donor organizations include AIF(ACCT), PNUD, UNESCO, UNICEF, European Union and AFRICALIA. Due to its international recognition today, FESPACO permits African filmmakers to show their talents and sell their products in the international market.[3][4]

The four general secretaries of FESPACO since 1972 have been Louis Tombiano, from 1972 to 1982, Alimata Salembere, from 1982 to 1984, Filippe Sawadogo, from 1984 to 1996 and Baba Hama, from 1996 to the present.

Main initiatives

  1. African international film and television market: FESPACO is a festival which promotes African filmmakers and facilitates the screening of all African films. This unique festival in Africa enables contacts and exchange between film and audiovisual professionals of Africa and also contributes to the expansion and development of African cinema as a means of expression, education and awareness rising.[1]
  2. Publication of African cinema and culture: The publication of African cinema is done through catalogues, FESPACO news, FESPACO newsletter and an African film library where you can find film archives and data bank and a travelling cinema. Its competition of exclusively African films permits the increase of quality in African films and the performance of filmmakers.[2]
  3. Non profit screenings in rural areas: FESPACO also promotes non-profit screenings in rural areas, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations or associations in schools and other public or private institutions.[5]
  4. Promotion of African cinema in other international festivals: FESPACO organizes various film events such as the film week and the film premieres, and it promotes African cinema in other international festivals.[3]
  5. MINIFESPACO. Promotion of FESPACO festival in national festivals events: FESPACO organizes un film event such as the MINIFESPACO, what will be hold in Ouahigouya (Burkina Faso) from 5 to 8 Jun 2013, at


The most prestigious award given out at the festival is the "Étalon de Yennenga" (Stallion of Yennenga), named in reference to the legendary founder of the Mossi empire.[7] The "Étalon de Yennenga" is awarded to the African film that best shows "Africa's realities".

Other special awards include the Oumarou Ganda Prize, given for the best first film, and the Paul Robeson Prize for the best film by a director of the African diaspora.

See also

External links

  • The official Fespaco site
  • Fespaco 2009 coverage on RFI English site
  • Internet Movie Database
  • FESPACO Collection at Indiana University Bloomington Black Film Center/Archive
  • BBC Coverage of FESPACO 2007 (with interviews and audio)
  • BBC Coverage of 2005 FESPACO
  • The Unlikely Home of Africa's Oscars by Katrina Manson, GlobalPost, March 12, 2009


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