Kenyan government supports Pan African filmmakers

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From 2 to 5 February 2015, the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) held
a meeting in Nairobi and received a four-year $1 million grant from the Kenyan
government.

On 4 February 2015, Kenyan Minister of Culture, Sports and the Arts, Dr Hassan
Wario announced on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta, that the Kenyan
government will support the Pan African Filmmakers Organisation (FEPACI) with a
grant of US$1 million.

“We hope our country will inspire you to find practical solutions to the common
challenges and problems that African filmmakers experience in funding, producing
and distributing African film on the continent and abroad,’ said Wario, according to
The Star, a Kenyan newspaper. This support will come in addition to a film school to
be opened by the end of the year.

This announcement followed a three-day FEPACI meeting attended by filmmakers
from various African regions. FEPACI decided to base its secretariat in Kenya and to
elect Kenyan filmmaker Jane Munene to run it. This is perhaps a new step forward
for the federation created in 1970. It is definitely a remarkable move towards
English-speaking and economically dynamic countries, considering the organisation’s
Francophone origins.

Created in Tunis during the Carthage International Film Festival, FEPACI was first
conducted by the Senegalese filmmaker Aboubacar Samb Makharam. In 1975, in
Algiers, African filmmakers adopted a charter to defend culture at large and “cinema
in particular’. Among their many activities, FEPACI participated in the launching of a
cinema school in Ouagadougou (INAFEC) in 1976, an Inter-African Film Distribution
Consortium (CIDC) in 1980, a bilingual Pan African film magazine (Ecrans d’Afrique)
in 1991 and a book for the centenary of West African cinema in 1995.

At a political level, FEPACI has been granted observer status at the African Union; it
took part in the 1978 Maputo Conference to create a common market for film
distribution, and triggered, through Benin, the creation of a Pan African fund for
cinema and audiovisual, at the 2003 African Union ordinary session in Maputo. In
2008, Gabonese filmmaker Charles Mensah mandated the International
Francophonie Organisation to conduct a study about the setting up of the Pan African
fund. In 2012, Tunisian filmmaker Ferid Boughedir was nominated to manage the
Transitional Orientation Committee.

Nevertheless, like many other organisations on the continent, FEPACI suffered from
internal conflicts. The death, in 2011, of its president Mensah, also caused a major
upset. In 2013, when a new General Secretary was elected –Malian filmmaker and
previously Minister of Culture, Cheik Oumar Sissoko – his first statement was to
condemn the way in which the Pan African fund had been managed.

At the 2015 Nairobi meeting, the filmmakers claimed that FEPACI will recover the
Pan African Fund and that this will be the opportunity to unify all the African
stakeholders. But now that FEPACI has a $1 million grant, what will happen next?

“To be continued,’ as filmmakers say…
– Claire Diao

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