The biennial African film festival, FESPACO, took place this year from 25 February to March 4. On March 4, the winner was announced, and Tunisian Youssef Chebbi won the Golden Stallion of Yennenga (Etalon d’or de Yennenga) for his film ‘Ashkal‘ which centres on the investigation into the killing of a caretaker on a construction site at Carthage on the outskirts of his hometown. He won the first prize over Burkinabe filmwriter Apolline Traore, who picked up the Silver Stallion of Yennenga for the film ‘Sira‘, while the Bronze Stallion was awarded to Kenya’s Angela Wamai for ‘Shimoni‘.
The Festival Panafricain du cinema et de la television de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) is the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, which happens to be the largest African film festival. It is held biennially in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. First established in 1969, and boasting some of Africa’s greatest writers and filmmakers (like Ousmane Sembene), the FESPACO offers a chance for African filmmakers and professionals to showcase their work, exchange ideas, and meet other filmmakers, and sponsors.
There were a total of 170 entries selected for the FESPACO festival in the capital Ouagadougou, including 15 fiction feature films in contention for the Yennenga Golden Stallion award and a prize of around $30,000. A big win for women filmmakers, with the second and third prizes won by Apolline Traore and Angela Wamai respectively. Burkinabe filmmaker Apolline Traore won the Silver Stallion for Sira, about a woman kidnapped by Jihadists, and Kenyan director Angela Wamai took home the Bronze Stallion for Shimoni, about a schoolteacher rebuilding his life in his remote village after a harsh stint in jail. In 2019, Burkinabe director Apolline Traore had said that any award had to be earned, not considered a token gesture; we are glad for the recognition her work and that of others is getting recognized.
The film, ‘Cuba in Africa‘ produced by Negash Abdurahman won the Thomas Sankara Prize. The film talks about the altruism of Cubans who sacrificed their sons and daughters on behalf of Africa; Cuban volunteers gave their lives to help Angola, Namibia, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, and others win independence, and contributed to the fall of apartheid in South Africa. It is a story all Africans should learn.
The 29th edition of Fespaco will be held from 22 February to 1 March 2025, also in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.