OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — By far the biggest delegation from outside Africa at the recent Panafrican Film Festival came from the United States.
The predominantly African-American group of more than 100 from the U.S. — led by film director John Singleton (“Boyz N the Hood”), writer Alice Walker (“The Color Purple”) and singer Tracy Chapman — attended the 13th edition of Fespaco Feb. 20-27 in this west African country.
Together with 1,400 guests from 54 countries, they put their stamp on an event that until recently struggled for recognition.
Fespaco, held every two years, has become the focal point of African film activity. In addition to the prize money –$ 825,000 — the event itself cost more than $ 1 million.
The fest, which attracted more than 400,000 spectators, unspooled some 350 features and shorts in scores of categories, including films made by directors whose ancestors hail from this continent.
The French government announced it will contribute $ 200,000 toward an African film archive, and the European Community will spend double that amount to restructure the Federation of African Film Makers.
In addition, Singleton and other African-American filmmakers say they’re looking into making films and creating an infrastructure in Africa.
One project that may be realized is “Seasons,” written by Akoswa Busia, an American actress of Ghanaian origin. It will be produced by Singleton. “I’ve come home,” he said of his first trip to Africa.
Etalon of Yennanga (major trophy): “In the Name of Christ,” Gnoan Roger M’Bala (Ivory Coast).
Best short, “Denko,” Mohamad Camara (Guinea).
Paul Robeson prize for best film of the diaspora: “Lumumba, Death of a Prophet,” Raoul Peck (Haiti).
First feature prize: “Gito the Ungrateful,” Leonce Ngabo (Burundi).
Documentary: “Women of Algiers,” Kamal Dehane (Algeria).
Special jury prize: “The Foreigners,” Djim Kola (Burkina Faso).
Cinematographers trophy: “Sankofa,” Haile Guerima (Ethiopia).