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Sat, 18 Apr 2015 16:17
A scene from the documentary Miners Shot Down

Regardless of the transitional political situation in Burkina Faso and the threat of Ebola and jihadists in the region, the Pan-African Film Festival of Ouagadougou held its 24th edition with 134 African movies in competition. Here’s an overview of some of the awarded films.

by Hicham Ayouch
Morocco – 89min
International sales:
La 25eme Heure (France) pierre-emmanuel@25hprod.com

Set in a Parisian suburb, Fièvres recounts the story of the 13-year-old Benjamin (stunningly portrayed by Didier Michon) who decides to live with his father (Slimane Dazi), with whom he has not had a relationship up to this point, and his grandparents. But Benjamin has a rage inside him that explodes through insults, bad behaviour and graffiti.
The film is a poetic analysis of generational misunderstandings, parenthood and the search for love. Previously awarded for Best Actor at the Marrakech Film Festival, Fièvres received the support of the Région Île de France, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Doha Film Institute and the CNC.

Fadhma N’soumer
by Belkacem Hadjadj
Algeria – 116min
International Sales: AARC (Algeria) contact@aarcalgerie.org

Set in Algeria in the 19th Century, when France sought to acquire the strategic region of Kabylia, Fadhma N’Soumer is an epic recounting how Fadhma N’Soumer (Laetitia Eïdo), a holy Kabylian figure, fought to keep her people free of French colonisation.
Recalling Algeria’s glorious past and explaining the war of independence that followed the French occupation, Fadhma N’soumer was supported by the Algerian Agency for Cultural Influence and the National Centre for Studies and Research on the History of the National Movement and on 1 November 1954 Revolution.

L’œil du cyclone by Sékou Traoré
Burkina Faso – 120min
International sales: Les films d’Avalon (France) aguyot@avalonfilms.fr

L’œil du cyclone was definitely the biggest surprise at FESPACO, as the Burkinabe features in competition were mostly low budget and featured non-professional casts. Sékou Traoré raised the standard with two interpretation awards (the brilliant Maïmouna Ndiaye and Fargass Assandé) and a high-level cinematographic, script and mise en scene level.
Adapted from Luis Marques’ eponym 2005 theatre play, L’œil du cyclone reminds one of The Silence of the Lambs with a lawyer forced to defend a former child soldier considered as a monster by society. Produced in seven years, the movie received the support of the EU-ACP and the Fonds francophone de production audiovisuelle du Sud.

by Leyla Bouzid
Tunisia – 27 min
International sales:
L’Agence du court-métrage (France) f.keller@agencecm.com

Winner of two Special Prizes (Thomas Sankara and Royal Air Maroc Awards), Zakaria is set in France and recounts the story of a teenager looking for her freedom and the conflict between her will and her father’s: he wants to go to Algeria to bury his father, she wants to stay in France while refusing to recognise her Arab heritage.
With intelligence, Leyla Bouzid underlines the difficulties that migration causes within a family. This short also won Best Producer Award at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Aissa’s Story
by Iquo Essien
Nigeria/USA – 15 min
International Sales: Iquo Essien (USA) iquomma@iquomma.com

This is the story of a housekeeper (Jennifer Tchiakpe) struggling to pick up the pieces of her life after the legal case against the hotel guest who assaulted her is dismissed. Inspired by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, Aissa’s Story follows the maid as she struggles through her work and family life, supported by her daughter who also suffers from threats and jokes at school.
This student movie is a brilliant depiction of a modern interpretation of the David and Goliath story, where the richest remains the winner, but the poorer pursues their fight for dignity. Hopefully viewers can soon look forward to Essien’s feature, for which she is currently working on raising funding.

by Cedric Ido
Burkina Faso – 33 min
International Sales: Bizibi (France) bizibi@free.fr

This was one of the most brilliant short films presented this year but it didn’t receive the accolades it deserved. Perhaps this is because it already won the top prize in Seattle, Namur and Saint-Georges-de-Didonne. Set in 1987 when Burkina Faso was under Thomas Sankara’s revolution, Twaaga is the story of an eight-year- old boy (brilliant Sabourou Bamogo) who dreams about comics and super heroes. He longs to overcome his circumstances by attaining superhuman powers. With a mix of animation and real shots, Twaaga received the support of French CNC, ARTE and Focus Features’Africa First grant.

Miners Shot Down
by Rehad Desai
South Africa – 86min
International sales:
Deckert Distribution (Germany)

In 2012, miners from the Lonmin platinum mine at Marikana in South Africa’s North West Province began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days later, the police surrounded them, killing 34 and injuring many more. The Marikana massacre became the first post-apartheid massacre and a national trauma. With footage from this strike as well as from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, Rehad Desai makes a strong case for poor workers facing collusion and corruption in the corridors of government and corporate power.

The documentary follows some of these workers, features interviews with Lonmin, the ANC and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leaders, Desai made this documentary with the support of the JustFilms Foundation, Bertha Foundation, National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), WorldView, Hivos and the South African Department of Trade and Industry. Due to its controversial nature, this acclaimed film has yet to secure a television broadcast deal.
- Claire Diao

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