Its 26th edition in 2019 marked its 50th anniversary. It takes place every two years in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
Demonstrating the dynamism of African cinema and the FESPACO’s important position on the continent, more than a thousand applications were submitted for this 26th edition, and about 160 films competed in seven categories. The feature-length competition, under the chairmanship of the Algerian Ahmed Bedjaoui, creator and director of the Algiers Festival, included 20 films from 16 countries.
Founded in 1969, thanks to the initiative of a group of cinephiles led by Alimata Salembéré, a television director who was appointed Minister of Culture in 1983, FESPACO’s primary mission is to promote and disseminate African film productions. The festival also aims to democratize access to African films, particularly for the people of Africa, and to train young people in film-related professions.
In 2019, FESPACO continued to support the rise of African cinema as a means of raising awareness and of education, and in particular as a tool for combating radicalization and emigration. To this end, documentaries, often shunted aside at film festivals, were given pride of place in 2019 with the establishment of a dedicated category that aimed to promote dialogue between generations and between peoples. This was a way of encouraging young people to get involved in the life of their nation, but also of describing today’s Africa for future generations.
At the same time, the duty of remembrance and tributes to past productions would be equally in evidence, with a retrospective of the great African films of the last 50 years and an exhibition of photographs and archival materials retracing the history of the festival. All the films which have won a Yennenga Gold Stallion would also be screened: from the first winner of the FESPACO, Le Wazzou Polygame by Nigerian director Oumarou Ganda which was recognized in 1972, to Félicité by Franco-Senegalese director Alain Gomis, the 2017 winner, which depicts the daily life of a woman in Kinshasa.
Establishing a link between the past and the future is thus the real challenge for the FESPACO semicentennial. In the century of digital technology and artificial intelligence, it is up to African cinema to imagine the future without erasing the past. “An Africa full of hope in a world facing immense challenges", as Burkina Faso's ambassador to France, Yemdaogo Éric Tiaré, stated at the press conference held on 15th January 2019.
According to institutfrancais.com