«All directors at Fespaco are African movie stars»

Happy birthday Fespaco & nbsp; This Saturday, February 23, in the afternoon, a spectacular ceremonial opening at the Ouagadougou Municipal Stadium will mark the beginning of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations.

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Ardiouma Soma, general delegate of Fespaco. Siegfried Forster / RFI

Happy birthday Fespaco! This Saturday, February 23, in the afternoon, a spectacular opening ceremony at the Ouagadougou Municipal Stadium will mark the beginning of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the biggest meeting of African cinema in the world. 160 films from across the continent are scheduled, including 20 films from 16 African countries vying for the highest distinction of the Pan-African Film Festival, the Yennenga Gold Standard. Interview with Ardiouma Soma, General Delegate of Fespaco, on the challenges of this special edition.

RFI : The guest of honor in this fiftieth anniversary edition of Fespaco is Rwanda. What is the particularity of Rwandan cinema for you ?

Ardiouma Soma : It is a tradition of Fespaco to invite each edition a country. And it's not necessarily a big film country, because in some countries the film industry is under construction. Nevertheless, when there is a real desire to develop it, the role of Fespaco is then to encourage these initiatives. But, we also had as a guest of honor of very large film countries like Egypt or Senegal where there is a real film policy. In other countries, there are talents, but not necessarily enough structures to support them. So, we are shedding light on countries with very different situations.

After 50 years of existence, what is the biggest challenge for Fespaco today ?

For this fiftieth anniversary edition, we invited all cinema professionals from the African continent and all our partners to reflect together on the memory and the future of Pan-African cinema. Why ? Because African cinema and the diaspora have existed for a very long time. It is an edition to realize the richness of this memory and the development of this heritage to nourish the creation and production of the present and the future. We had on the continent a fight cinema for the struggles of the liberations of the different African countries and also a fight cinema for the diversity of the cultures of this continent. Today, we are meeting to also address the economic dimension of culture, film and audiovisual. Our film industries must serve the economic development of our countries.

What is your oldest memory of Fespaco ?

I have a lot of memories. I have been at Fespaco since 1988, 31 years ago. One of the most memorable memories is certainly meetings with Ousmane Sembène, this great filmmaker, and his vision of African cinema. Since the beginning of the Festival in 1969, Ousmane Sembène has remained faithful to Fespaco until his death in 1987.

After many terrorist attacks in recent months in the north and east of Burkina Faso, security has become one of the major issues of this 2019 edition. How do you intend to reassure festival-goers in Ouagadougou ?

We took all necessary measures. On the other hand, security has become a global problem today. And this global problem can only be solved globally. Festivals like Fespaco are meeting points to talk about culture and democracy to fight the forces of Evil. We are doing everything necessary to keep the situation under control. And festival-goers can make it easier for security guards to avoid bringing big purses or big backpacks.

Before the fiftieth anniversary, many names of stars circulated. The rumors announced among other things the arrival of Omar Sy, Jamel Debbouze, but also Hollywood stars and Nollywood as Will Smith or Jackie Appiah ... Who will be the biggest headliners on the red carpet Fespaco ?

For me, as the organizer of Fespaco for 31 years, all the filmmakers whose films have been selected in the competition or in the sections, are stars. We have about 160 films in the program. For me, all these filmmakers, all comedians and actresses, they are all stars of African cinema or even simply cinema.

► Read also: Fespaco 2019: the voice of African cinema celebrates 50 years, rfi, 22/2/2019

Fespaco 2019: The list of African films in the running for the Yennenga Stallion
Fespaco 2019: What are you waiting for the 50th anniversary?
► The official program of Fespaco 2019 => http://tinyurl.com/y536xjjd

ref: rfi