Scen.: Mohamed Challouf. F.: Nara Keo Kosal. M.: Dario Cavalleri, Mirka Fanti. Mus.: Colombes de la révolution, Alpha Blondy, Les Petits Chanteurs au poing levé, Oger Kabore. Int.: Ousmane Sembène, Souleymane Cissé, Férid Boughedir, Idrissa Ouédraogo, Abderrahmane Sissako. Prod.: Caravanes Productions. DCP. D.: 60’. Col.
After Thomas Sankara’s tragic assassination on 15 October 1987, many filmmakers and journalists, including Haile Gerima and Roberto Silvestri, decided to protest by not going back to Ouagadougou and Fespaco. Along with Djibril Diop Mambéty, Taieb Louhichi and many others, we continued our biennial pilgrimage to Burkina Faso’s capital, but we boycotted the film festival’s opening and closing ceremonies with the new president, Blaise Compaoré, orchestrator of Sankara’s death and guilty of ending a great Pan-African utopia. We used those official occasions to gather around the murdered president’s family and express our gratitude and solidarity with them.
For more than a decade, my frustration grew as I saw Fespaco change from being a great meeting place for Pan-African cinema to an immense carnival of tourism, business and entertainment, diminishing the domain of film.
In 1999, for the festival’s 30th anniversary, I decided to pick up the camera and tell the story of Fespaco’s roots using rare archive materials. The hard work of Ousmane Sembène, Tahar Chériaa, Oumarou Ganda, Lionel Ngakane and many other pioneers brought into being this event, which over the years became an important occasion for reflecting on the birth, identity and resilient spirit of African cinema. Using the testimony of its founders and materials from the period, I tried to tell the story of my Ouagadougou and my Fespaco.