• African Cinemas, when will the «old» problems end up?

African Cinemas, when will the «old» problems end up?

January and February remain the most important periods in discovering the so-called African films – which, despite international visibility, continue to stumble on the same problems: funding largely from the North and Africa-wide broadcasting to be reviewed.


International successful films

Sundance Film Festival in the US – the prestigious festival that promotes autonomy, creativity and risk taking, recognized for its discoveries of emerging talents and for their connection with the American public – rolls out the red carpet for the 1st world broadcasting of the film «The Wound» by the South African John Trengove in January. This festival has already hosted many talents such as the Rwandan Kivu with his film «Things of the Aimless Wanderer» in 2015.


As for Europe, at the Berlinale in Germany, which remains one of the biggest festivals in the world, it is a great platform for new African productions, including «The foreign body» by the Tunisian Raja Amari, «Mama Colonel» by the Congolese Dieudo Hamadi, and «Félicité» by the Senegalese director Alain Gomis (in international competition). Once again, the Berlinale shows in its own way the nuggets of African cinema, regardless of the segmentations such as « French-, English- and Portuguese-speaking Africa. »


Pan-African problems

The Pan African Festival of Cinema and Television of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) – which takes place on February 25 – March 4 in Burkina Faso as a Biennial event of African cinema, a true showcase of Pan-African production and its Diaspora – would have received more than 1000 films, 150 of which will be shown for its new festival. These achievements clearly show that the pan-African film production is dynamic, and partly vindicate its visibility on major international festivals, despite the recurrent challenge of national funding and broadcasting throughout the continent.


From the film « Félicité » by Alain Gomis to that of the Congolese Dieudo Hamadi, despite these talented and well-known directors, they had to beg for financing from the western countries to implement their projects. While Senegal, through its fund FOPICA (Film and Broadcasting Industry Promotion Fund) and the Ivory Coast – which recently set up the Support Fund for Film Initiatives (FONSIC) – are trying to facilitate film productions in their countries. Many countries, especially Sub-saharan African countries are still lagged behind. Beneficial initiatives, in a continent stuck in internal conflicts and divisions, struggle to set up. Film productions, whether successful or of any kind, are therefore co-productions with a large subsidy from the western countries.


Reviewing broadcasting

While international co-productions facilitate the production of African films, they also pledge for their visibility in the major world festivals. But their visibility in the continent is sometimes ignored, or even flouted. Despite the many continental organizations’ attempts and the many private initiatives – either to restore, create cinemas, it is still not easy to watch open-air African films in the continent except for festivals.


With the explosion of smartphones, tablets and computers, many Internet platforms which are now trying to solve this « old problem » – and detect a genuine market are confronted, for the moment, with a precarious Internet connection throughout the continent.


* Alex Moussa Sawadogo is the artistic director of Afrikamera (African film festival of Berlin) and Ouaga Film Lab in Burkina Faso. He is a consultant and programmer in many festivals in Europe and Africa.


Author: Alex Moussa Sawadogo // Photo: Alex Moussa Sawadogo – © Alex Moussa Sawadogo


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