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Africa's largest film festival kicks off in Burkina Faso

The 28th Pan-African Film and television Festival (FESPACO), in Ouagadougou, on February 25, 2023.   -  
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Sophie Garcia/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Burkina Faso

Presidents, military rulers or crises may come and go in Burkina Faso, but the Fespaco endures.

Africa's largest film festival kicked off Saturday as the nation fights a jihadist insurgency. Over 15,000 people, including Nigerian cinema stars are expected.

A source of pride for the festival director.

"It's a form of resilience and resistance for the Burkinabe, for the filmmakers," Alex Moussa Sawadogo revealed.

"More importantly, we can meet at a critical time of Burkina history as this year's theme Culture of Peace is very important because today the issue of peace is not only political or military, but it concerns everybody, the artists, the filmmakers, the producers. ..."

African productions

100 movies from 35 African countries and the diaspora, were shortlisted to compete.

Among them is “Sira” which is considered a front-runner in this year’s competition. The piece by Burkinabe director Apolline Traore, tells the tale of a woman’s struggle for survival after being kidnapped by jihadis in the Sahel.

"Right after we had one of the biggest massacres in our country a couple of years ago in Yirgou, it was so shocking to me actually, because I know that we never had such a thing in Burkina Faso," she says.

"And as an artist as a filmmaker, we need to use our art to share what we are feeling, and this is exactly what I did."

Government officials say they have ramped up security for this year's edition. Since its launch in 1969, biennial film festival FESPACO has never been cancelled

" Holding the festival matters to us because it is very, very important for social cohesion. It's important to meet and talk about movies around a poulet byciclette dish, a good bissap or gnamakou. During two weeks, everybody is on cloud nine, everybody's going to see movies, people meet again, the Burkinabe don't feel abandoned."

Movies shortlisted compete across 11 categories, including short film, documentaries, TV series and animation.

Nearly half of those in the fiction competition this year are directed by women.

The Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou will run through March 4th.

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