FESPACO recap: Nyirasafari highlights government efforts to boost film industry

Nyirasafari participated in the roundtable on African women in the cinema industry on the 4th day of the biennial festival on February 26.
The festival featured traditional dance performances by Urukerereza troupe.

Though Rwanda’s film industry is still in its infancy stages, the Government of Rwanda views it as one of the sectors that can contribute greatly to the economy and help develop untapped talent.

This is what was contained in the message of the Minister for Sports and Culture, Espérance Nyirasafari, as she participated in a roundtable at 2019 Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, commonly known by its French acronym FESPACO.

Nyirasafari participated in the roundtable on African women in the cinema industry on the 4th day of the biennial festival on February 26, in which Rwanda is participating as the guest country.

During the roundtable themed “50 years of FESPACO: 50/50 for Women, equality and diversity in African Cinema”, Nyirasafari highlighted government efforts to boost the film industry which largely remains underdeveloped.

A performer from Ouagadougou. 

The Minister said that the government recognises the potential of the industry which is currently largely run by the private sector, noting that the industry has the potential of growing to levels that can contribute to economic growth and help nurture untapped acting talent.

The panel was also made up of Burinabe First Lady Sika Kabore, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, Abdoul Karim Sango Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Burkina Faso, and other eminent personalities.

On the sidelines of the roundtable, Kabore paid a courtesy visit to the “Visit Rwanda” stand at the International market of African films (MICA) in Ouagadougou.

“I am highly impressed by what Rwanda has achieved in such a short period of time. These beautiful pictures on the walls make you want to visit Rwanda,” said Kabore.

On Wednesday, the President of Burkina Faso Roch Christian Marc Kabore, and the First Lady Sika Kabore, hosted a gala dinner for participants of the festival with the Rwandan delegation led by Minister Esperance Nyirasafari, and comprised of invited artistes and filmmakers.

A Rwandan intore dancer at the festival. 

The national ballet Urukerereza put up a spectacular performance, which livened up the audience and cemented the ballet’s international appeal.

The dinner followed the screening of “Icyasha”, one of the three competing Rwandan films in this year’s FESPACO.

“Icyasha”, whose director Clémentine Dusabejambo, won numerous international accolades, shows the simultaneous pain and beauty of childhood.

Born in Kigali in 1987, Dusabejambo, has written and directed award winning films including “Lyiza” (2012), which was her first short movie, “A Place for Myself” (2016), which premiered at the Zanzibar FilmFest, and won three awards. Both short films won a Tanit bronze award in Carthage Film Festival, in 2012 and 2016.

Urukerereza singers at the festival. 

FESPACO, known in French as the Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou, FESPACO) is a biennial festival organised in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso.

It accepts for competition only films by African filmmakers, mainly produced in Africa. Created in 1969, FESPACO was first called the Pan-African film and television festival.

It has evolved into an internationally recognised and respected event. The festival offers African film professionals the chance to establish working relationships, exchange ideas, and promote their work.

FESPACO’s stated aim is to “contribute to the expansion and development of African cinema as means of expression, education and awareness-raising”. It has also worked to establish a market for African films and industry professionals.