CRWN on the Move: Pan African Film Fest
Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou, broadly known as FESPACO, is a biennial pan-African film festival held in Burkina Faso with a mission to "contribute to the expansion and development of African cinema as means of expression, education and awareness-raising.” At its founding program in 1969, five West African countries participated.
Today, filmmakers from across the continent and diaspora and every walk of life are represented. Elaborate opening and closing ceremonies, events at every cultural center in the city, and a Presidential Dinner make it a spirited, week-long experience. The screening program, competitive awards, and film market serve as a launching point from which our creative expressions and our careers can achieve recognition and a global reach. Most importantly, FESPACO is a space for all of us who care deeply about the preservation of our stories and the cultivation of new ones to gather and forge fellowships. It’s a home, and the community of Ouagadougou’s welcome ensures that is felt.
When Ben & Ara, a film I’ve advocated for since its inception, was selected to screen at this year’s festival, I didn’t hesitate to use it as an excuse to attend along with the producer, Constance Ejuma. For those of us outside of the region, Ouagadougou isn’t the quickest place to get to. Yet as Constance and I learned from friends met after our smooth, one-stop fight route through Paris landed, sometimes the best relationships are forged when one is indefinitely stuck in Casablanca, as it seemed that almost everyone else had been.
After all, FESPACO is an event for which pretenses and false ideas of our differences should be left at home. I arrived down for a journey, whether via complex characters on screen or into the homes, through the marketplaces, and on the motorbikes that make up the vast, hot, dusty, beautiful, red-earthed, city. As a filmmaker, meeting like-minded writers, actors, scholars, distributors, programmers and creatives was overwhelmingly inspiring, but all African culture enthusiasts will find knowledge of self at this special event.
Please contribute to black diaspora cinema by making an effort to see the films from FESPACO and other similar events.
These photos are courtesy of myself and other independent filmmakers who represented Burkina Faso, Ghana, USA, the UK, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Nigeria, New Zealand, Mali and France: IG @ashleydellis @cejuma @adonoel @kenilola @parishafrica @franck_onouviet @esi_yamoah @this_is_franc @mantegaftot