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Pan African Film Festival

Photographer: Nic Bothma

 

'Burkina Faso' meaning the land of the man of integrity is a place like no other in Africa. Bordering the harsh, hot and dry African Sahel it simmers in the day at around 40 degrees. Bicycles, scooters and pedestrians dominate the the mostly sand streets with the population very laid back and friendly. As the sun sets and the temperature drops into the tollerable 30 something degrees the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou comes alive with a hive of activity as it plays host to Africa's most prominent film festival FESPACO.

 

The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou known as FESPACO is the largest film festival in Africa. Nearly 170 films from all over the continent are shown during the week long bi-annual festival which is now in its 23rd edition running from 23 February until 02 March 2013. 101 films vy for the top Etalon d'Or prize with all of the juries for the different categories presided this year by women. This year's theme focused on African cinema and politics.

 

The opening ceremony at the Stade 4 Aout is a grand spectacle attracting thousands of locals who enjoy the free entertainment. Then over the next week various cinema's across the city screen the films entered in the competition and some that are not. A red carpet scattered with leaves and dust leads the way to the main Cinema Burkina where daily the top presentations are screened. Directors, actors, producers, journalists and tourists walk the red carpet into the theatre entertained by performers on stilts.

 

This year's festival was limited in the popular outdoor screenings due to security concerns with Burkina Faso bordering Mali currently experiencing a war. Still 5 of the city's iconic open air cinema's screened fringe presentations to audiences at a cost of 500cfa (around one us dollar) which to most locals was prohibitively expensive.

 

The film culture in this unlikely place runs deep with the theatres screening films year round. A lack of funds has meant the outdoor theatres have become run down and struggle to survive. Yet they keep going with regular screenings at the outdoor cinema's placed in squares in the poorer neighbourhoods of this intriguing West African city.