[Filmfestivalresearch] SCMS Panel on FESPACO's 50th Anniversary

Aboubakar Sanogo aboubakar.sanogo at gmail.com
Mon Jul 30 21:20:30 CEST 2018

*FESPACO at 50-Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Africa’s Most Important
Film Festival and Cultural Event *

Five decades ago, many of the founding figures of African cinema found
themselves carrying their first films under their arms, unable to screen
them in movie theaters across their newly independent countries. These
screens were literally ‘occupied’ by the more powerful film industries of
Hollywood, Europe and to some extent Bollywood. The filmmakers banded
together and set out to create ‘liberated zones’ for African cinema, first
in Carthage in 1966 and later in Ouagadougou in 1969.

The year 2019 will mark the golden jubilee or fiftieth (50th) anniversary
of the founding of the festival that will later become the Pan African Film
Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the most important film and cultural
event on the African continent.  Over the years, the festival has, in
addition to being a genuinely indispensable biennial exhibition space,
become a *locus classicus* of artistic and cultural legitimation; a place
for the encounter between filmmakers and their audiences; an inspiring
lighthouse for cinephilia in Africa; a space for the reinvention of the
world according to a principle of proximity irreducible to the play of
geopolitics. Indeed, FESPACO is nothing short of a unique laboratory of
ideas, where the cultural, the political, the economic and the social find
unique modes of mutual articulation, and partake in the production of
thought and affects about the place of Africa in the world, the ways she
sees herself and wishes to project herself. Nevertheless, it is also
traversed by the pressures of its times, from the lingering residuals of
the neocolonial, to the postcolonial and global and indeed the emerging
post-global. Its continued existence alone may be said to embody the sense
of perennity of African cinema as a project, inspiring one of Ousmane
Sembene’s most memorable quotes “We begot FESPACO. Now it is FESPACO that
carries us forward.”

In an effort to evaluate this major institution, celebrate its uncommon
journey and critically examine the festival’s successes and limitations,
this panel will thus consist in a series of gestures involving
retrospection, stocktaking and prospection in view of examining, inter
alia, the evolving identities of the festival, its role in shaping the
destiny of African cinema, its standing relative to the global sphere of
film festivals, and, indeed, its place in the emerging field of film
festival studies.

Proposals are thus sought that might include the following issues:

*A.    **IDENTITY*

1.      FESPACO as the home of African cinema (is it still the home of
African cinema?)

2.      FESPACO between continentalism and Pan Africanism

3.      FESPACO as a mecca of African cinephilia

4.      FESPACO and the diasporic: the place of African-American,
Afro-Caribbean, Afro-European cinemas at FESPACO.

5.      FESPACO and the language question: Multilingualism or the legacy of
colonial linguistic divide? (Francophones, Anglophones. Lusophones,
Arabophones and Africaphones).

6.      FESPACO and the politics of gender

7.      FESPACO and 20th century history: decolonization; the Cold War; the
challenges of post-independent Africa; globalization; apartheid; etc.

8.      FESPACO and host country politics


1.      FESPACO as a “factory” of auteurism in Africa cinema: what kind of
auteurism for African cinema? Has FESPACO helped push the boundaries of
auteurism, redefined auteurism?

2.      The status of popular cinema at FESPACO: Nollywood and its
progenies at FESPACO

3.      The politics of programming at FESPACO.

4.      FESPACO and the political economy of African cinema

5.      Awards and prizes at FESPACO and the afterlives of African films

*6.      *FESPACO and the emergence and strengthening of national cinemas
in Africa

7.      The status of television at FESPACO

8.      The status of video at FESPACO


1.      FESPACO in the ecology of African film festivals

2.      FESPACO in the global ecology of film festivals (A list film
festivals Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, Toronto, etc.)

3.      FESPACO as event and the event-ness of FESPACO

4.      FESPACO in the political economy of world cinema

5.      FESPACO and film markets

6.      FESPACO in the age of new and digital technologies and social
media: challenges and opportunities?

7.      FESPACO and the world of streaming.

Please submit a 200 word abstract, 5 bibliographic sources, 5 keywords, a
short professional biography to aboubakar.sanogo at carleton.ca  by August 10,
Aboubakar S. Sanogo
Assistant Professor
Film Studies
Carleton University

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