The 25th Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) is expected on February 24 – March 4, 2017, under the theme « Training, and film and audiovisual trades. » One month before the onset of the event, the Delegate General Ardiouma Soma makes a stock-taking of the Festival organization, in the digital era.
FESPACO will take place in less than a month. How is the 25th festival organized, and what is the demand?
On January 12th, we launched our National Committee for the organization of the festival. It supports the General Delegation of FESPACO – which has been working for two years in the design, the planning, the implementation and in collecting funds. But now, 4 weeks before the event, we are in the final phase and we had to set up the Committee, as there is a series of activities to be undertaken which requires an extended team to deal with the growing demand. For example, we recorded more than 1000 films against nearly 670 films in 2015, an increase of more than 30%, showing a dynamic film and audiovisual industry in our various African countries.
You have just returned from Abidjan. To which extend is the Ivory Coast a partner of FESPACO?
First, we went to Abidjan not only for the official launch of our event on January 5, but above all because the Ivory Coast is the guest honor country of this event. The Ivory Coast has been selected guest honor country because several actions have been undertaken by the government for the promotion of film and audiovisual, especially by setting up a fund to support the film industry and by adopting a policy for the rehabilitation and digitization of cinemas.
What are the other international partners of the Festival? And how does this affect the financing of the film industry?
After visiting Abidjan, the FESPACO presentation tours will continue in Brussels, Belgium, and Paris, France, to meet all professional stakeholders. We also meet moviegoers and the public for a massive participation in our festival which is the showcase of African film today. In these countries, some institutions financially support cultural projects in our continent: the European Funds, Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP), the French community to Belgium, Africalia, and of course the African Diaspora made up of filmmakers and men of cultures.
What is the budget of the organization? And how is it formed?
The budget of the 25th festival is nearly one CFA billion, for about 100 million in terms of financial needs. The budget is set with a financing plan with various contributions from the government of Burkina Faso, the friendly countries of Burkina Faso, and the development partners as part of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. But our funding also records the sponsorship contribution from the private sector, and various supports from other types of structures…
Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is currently being launched in many African countries. According to you, how can we support this « digital revolution? »
With the advent of DTT, there will be a great diversity of screens, seriously increasing the need for audiovisual content. Africa must therefore prepare itself to meet this need through quality productions to compete with international standards … That is why, for this festival, we have come back to the main theme – «Training, and film and audiovisual trades » – to support the new broadcasting technology.
In two years, FESPACO will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Are there already any reflections in progress to give a special complexion to this event?
In 2019, an evaluation of FESPACO will be required to reflect on the future of the film and audiovisual industry: a number of questions arise around DTT. It will also be an opportunity to acknowledge all the pioneers and stakeholders in the African film and audiovisual industry.
Interview by Ibrahima SANOU
Author: Ibrahima Sanou // Photo: Ardiouma Soma, the Delegate General of Fespaco – © FESPACO