It's closing night at the Pan-African Film & TV Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), happening in Burkina Faso, with the top awards being handed out as I type this.
Unfortunately the festival doesn't have much of an online presence - there's a website, but it's not very well kept, and the festival doesn't have an official Twitter account; there's a Facebook page, but it's not clear if it's an official one, because I found a few other FESPACO Facebook pages.
It's just all very confusing and frustrating when one is trying to get information.
I say all that in part because I'm having to rely on the tweets by those who are present at the festival for the below key awards information. I was really hoping that I'd get some firsthand coverage by a few folks I know who attended, but, from what I was told, Internet access is really spotty over there.
But it's a festival that occurs only once every two years, so with today's closing festivities, there won't be much conversation about FESPACO again until January/February 2015 - a year that I plan to attend for the very first time; so, assuming S&A is still around in 2015, we'll definitely have some firsthand coverage.
101 total titles (shorts, features, documentaries, TV serials, and more) were screened in competitive categories at the festival, the most significant in all of Africa, and in the world - especially when it comes to Diaspora cinema.
Of course, tonight's awards aren't without controversy, as 3 films (it may have even been 4) were disqualified from awards eligibility because they didn't meet the 35MM screening print rule. In short, only films that can be screened via a 35MM print can compete for the Étalon de Yennenga (Stallion of Yennenga) awards - essentially the top film prizes at the festival. I wrote about that entire matter in a previous post, which you should read HERE.
But without further ado, let me thank Katarina Hedrén, Aisha Dabo, Fatou Toure, and Anoumou Amekudji whose Twitter updates I relied on a lot to provide me with first-hand info on happenings at the festival, since it began a week ago, especially in putting together what I could of this winners list that follows, but which is also incomplete, because I haven't been able find all the awards information I need; however, this post will be updated as more information surfaces:
- The Golden Stallion (Étalon de Yenenga), the award for the Best Film at the festival went to Alain Gomis' Tey (Aujourd'hui,or Today in English), which stars Saul Williams and Aissa Maiga, and follows a man named Satche (played by Williams) during the last 24 hours of his life. It's a film we've profiled and followed on S&A. This is the first time in FESPACO history that a Senegalese film has won the top prize at the festival, which may seem unbelievable considering that Senegal has produced a few of the most prominent African filmmakers like Ousmane Sembène and Djibril Diop Mambéty. The photo above is of Alain Gomis addressing the press just after collecting the Golden Stallion trophy.
- The Silver Stallion went to Djamila Sahraoui's Yema, from Algeria. The post-Algerian Civil war drama focuses on the classically themed brother-against-brother tragedy that befalls one family, to make damning statements about the heartbreaking conflict (between the government and Islamist fundamentalist rebels) as a whole.
- The Bronze Stallion went to Moussa Touré's La Pirogue (another film we've profiled and followed) which tells the story of a group of Senegalese men who set off for Europe on a simple fishing boat, hoping for a better life.
- The award for Best Film From The Diaspora (the best non-African film but of the African Diaspora) went to Mariette Monpierre's Le Bonheur d'Elza (aka Elza), her feature film debut, and another film we've profiled and followed here on S&A (Guadeloupe).
- The award for Best First Feature Film went to Les Enfants De Toumaron by Harri Krisna et Sharvan Anenden from Mauritius. Set in Port-Louis, the capital of Mauritius, the film follows four youngsters and their fight for their survival, and plans to get away that yield tragic results.
- Saul Williams won the award for Best Actor for his performance in Alain Gomis' Tey.
- Mariam Ouedraogo won the award for Best Actress for her performance in Moi Zaphira by Apolline Traore of Burkina Faso. The film tells the story of a poor young woman who lives in a village with her 7 year old daughter, and who, in trying to create a better life for both of them, is inspired by a fashion magazine, to turn her daughter into a model.
- Nadia El Fani's Meme Pas Mal won the award for Best Feature Documentary.
- The award for Best Short Film went to Les Souliers de l'Aid by Anis Lasoued from Tunisia.
That's all I was able to collect. I'm hoping that a local (Ouagadougou-based) news outlet, or any other news outlet with a presence at the festival prints the full list of award winners, because I know there are more than this, and Google didn't immediately yield any results.
But once I have the full list, I'll update this post. I just wanted to, at least, get the key awards posted!
Congrats to Alain Gomis and all the other winners, and here's to another year at FESPACO. See you in 2015, when I'll definitely be there myself!