By John Owoo
(In Ouagadougou – Burkina Faso)
Music, dance, antics from horsemen and women alongside high security marked the opening of the 2019 edition of the Pan African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO), which took place at the Municipal Stadium in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou.
Clad in colorful costumes, the groups, which included the National Ballet of Rwanda severally and jointly showcased rich African culture by turning the rectangular shaped stage into a repository of excellence, which will be one of the important words during the one-week festival.
Over 4,500 members of the film fraternity all over the world as well as one hundred thousand locals will participate in the festival, which has programmed over 450 screenings of African films in Cine Burkina, Cine Neerwaya and other locations throughout the city of Ouagadougou.
With over 2,000 security personnel deployed in all venues, hotels, restaurants and other buildings to ensure adequate protection of participants, the festival will witness twenty films from sixteen countries competing for the Golden Stallion of Yennenga, which is named after a 12th Century Princess, who founded the Mossi Empire.
These include “The Mercy of the Jungle” by Rwandan director Joël Karékezi “Keteke” by Ghanaian director Peter Sedufia, “Rafiki” by Kenyan director Wanuri Kahui, “Desrances” by Burkinabe director Apolline Traore and “Miraculous Weapons” by Cameroonian director Jean- Pierre Bekolo. These films, among others are set to be in a stiff competition for the utmost prize of FESPACO.
Easily the largest film festival in Africa, FESPACO, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, has contributed in diverse ways to the development of the film industry on the continent while providing a platform for interactions and collaborations among professionals in the sector.
Present at the opening ceremony include Burkinabe president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Minister of Culture Abdoul Karim Sango, President of the African Union Commission Mousaa Fakit Mahamat and President of FESPACO Organizing Committee President Yacouba Traoré among others.
MARCO LONGARI / AFP / Getty Images and ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP / Getty Images