FESPACO opens with great fanfare. Fireworks, dancers and a stadium full of people. This is a big deal. It's Sundance and Cannes but for Black cinema. Amazing at how much they love film. In the center of the city is a huge sculpture of film reels and statues of different great African filmmakers like Ousmane Sembene and Gaston Kabore. Nice.
The most prestigious award at FESPACO is the "Étalon de Yennenga" (Stallion of Yennenga) named after a woman!
In one of the poorest countries in the world the people are celebrating film. It's interesting and inspiring that Africans love their cinema so much. The key word is their cinema and there's lots of it and much of it great. It's both interesting and inspiring. This really puts theAfrican-American cinema into perspective. We love Tyler Perry and that's fine, but that's like the Nollywood films, they make the most money but there is another level of filmmaking. By promoting TP and Nollywood you don't encourage people to grow. It sticks with the same formula over and over again. There is room for many other images and stories.
The Africans love to tell, hear and see stories about themselves in a way that is totally different from the African-American. The griot spirit is alive and well in their films. People line up for films likeit's super lottery. Everyone is very orderly and pleasant, no pushing, no arguments. Here's another thing these young Black men are not gang banging, killing each other but are challenging each other's film skills. There are cine-clubs that distribute film all over the country. Many of these clubs have film teams (gangs) of young people that are learning to and making films. When they shoot at each other or have drive-by shootings, it has a totally different meaning.
Here's something else different about the cinema experience here. After the films they discuss the film and it's theme. Audiences participate in discussions after the films, not just at the festival but at their neighborhood outdoor theatres. One young man told me if you want to prove to a girl that you are a proper young man and respectable, the first place you take her is to the cinema, the second date you can go to the restaurant, but the cinema is first, to prove you're worthy.