FESPACO:THE LARGEST PAN-AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL AND BROTHER DANNY GLOVER,ALWAYS TRAVELLING TO THE MOTHERLAND NARRATES THIS DOC ON IT-FROM THE FINAL CALL NEWSPAPER

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FROM finalcall.com

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FESPACO: The largest Pan-African film festival you’ve probably never heard of
By Ashahed M. Muhammad
Updated Oct 7, 2008, 12:33 pm

Narrated by award-winning actor and outspoken activist Danny Glover this 82-minute documentary chronicles FESPACO (Le Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou) an African film festival held bi-annually every odd year in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in West Africa.

FESPACO began in 1969 when a group of visionary film enthusiasts joined together to create venues for works written, produced and directed by Africans to receive wider exposure. This desire led to the establishment of an outlet to promote the works of African filmmakers and led to the creation of networking opportunities for film industry professionals across the globe to share their ideas and techniques. Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Morrocco, Burundi, the United States and the United Kingdom are just some of the diverse global locales represented by filmmakers displaying their creative talents at FESPACO.

Previously called the Republic of Upper Volta, the land now known as Burkina Faso was renamed in 1984 by President Thomas Sankara who fought against imperialism and corruption which ultimately led to his death in 1987. It is important to note that during the time of French colonial rule in areas such as Burkina Faso, filmmaking was forbidden to Africans which makes the establishment of a film festival hosted there even more remarkable and meaningful.

Even if you consider yourself a Black film aficionado, it is quite possible that you’ve never even heard of the film festival and there are a number of reasons for that.

Here in the United States, there are very few outlets for Black films dealing with serious and interesting Black oriented themes. There is little if any support for Black films that deal with topics other than crime, sex, dysfunctional relationships, or stepping fetchit-esque representations of comedy.

As a contrast, FESPACO features movies with political and socially relevant themes such “Chisholm ‘72: Unbought & Unbossed” a 2004 documentary directed by Shola Lynch dealing with Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s historic 1972 presidential bid. “Drum”, a 2004 film about South African journalist Henry Nxumalo played by award-winning American actor Taye Diggs deals with those who challenged apartheid in the 1950s. In 2005, “Drum” earned FESPACO’s top award, the “Étalon de Yennenga” (Stallion of Yennenga) given to the African film that best shows the realities of Africa. The award also symbolizes African cultural identity that lives on through the creation of African filmmakers who use their talents to effectively tell our story.

Another FESPACO award winner, 2003 documentary “Beah: A Black Woman Speaks” covers the life of Black actress Beah Richards and was directed by Black female filmmaker Lisa Gay Hamilton. Ms. Hamilton was given the prestigious Paul Robeson Prize awarded for the best film by a director from within the African Diaspora.

Awards are also given for the Best First Film (called the Oumarou Ganda Prize), and awards for Best Actor and Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and other categories similar to the Oscars that are awarded to film industry professionals in the United States.

FESPACO is written, produced and directed by Kevin Arkadie, whose credits include “NYPD Blue,” “NY Undercover,” “Soul Food,” and “The Shield.” Interviews with FESPACO award winners (and losers) as well as a behind-the scenes peek into the unique challenges faced by filmmakers from Africa and the African Diaspora make this DVD well worthwhile.

The next FESPACO film festival is scheduled for Feb. 28th through March 7th 2009. (To order the documentary go to http://www.fespacodocumentary.com/. For more information on attending the festival or qualifications for film entry, visit the English language website at http://www.fespaco.bf/index_en.html.)

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One Response to “FESPACO:THE LARGEST PAN-AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL AND BROTHER DANNY GLOVER,ALWAYS TRAVELLING TO THE MOTHERLAND NARRATES THIS DOC ON IT-FROM THE FINAL CALL NEWSPAPER”

  1. D. Seals Says:

    Greetings,

    I plan to attend FESPACO ’09. I am really looking forward to the visit.

    I would like to conduct an animation workshop for children while I’m there – any suggestions where to start?

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