FESPACO 2015

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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.

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

Set in a Parisian suburb, Fievres 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,
Fievres received the support of the Region Île de France, the Abu Dhabi Film
Festival, the Doha Film Institute and the CNC.

SILVER STALLION
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 Eido), 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.

BRONZE STALLION
L’œil du cyclone by Sekou Traore
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. Sekou Traore raised the standard with two interpretation awards (the brilliant
Maimouna Ndiaye and Fargass Assande) 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.

BRONZE SHORT FILM
Zakaria
by Leyla Bouzid
Tunisia – 27 min
International sales:
L’Agence du court-metrage (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.

SPECIAL MENTION SHORT FILM
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.

SPECIAL MENTION SHORT FILM
Twaaga
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.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Miners Shot Down
by Rehad Desai
South Africa – 86min
International sales:
Deckert Distribution (Germany)
info@deckert-distribution.com

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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