Africa Film WebMeeting

Message from: (
About: Back in action after FESPACO

Mon, 10 Mar 97 11:16:00 PST

Originally from: <>
Originally dated: Mon, 10 Mar 97 11:16:00 PST

Dear African Cinema Listserver subscribers:

The listserve has been idle for two weeks as I've been at FESPACO, and
recovering a few days since then. I couldn't make the email connection from

there to home, but survived the withdrawal from my email addiction much
better than I'd thought.

Anyhow, I'm back at it now. As you have noticed I've just posted a flurry
of bits and pieces from the other listservers I belong to, and other sources

of information. As my time allows, I hope to write a couple pieces on
FESPACO, but until that time, I'll list a few key info-bites that might
interest you all.

The festival was in a word, GREAT! It is wonderful to see all the interest
in African cinema. The cinemas played to pretty full houses, and the
poolside at the Hotel Independance was always alive with conversations of
friends and contacts that only get to meet every two years. The harmattan
was bad this year and the air full of dust. I heard some say it was the
worst in 50 years! But the good side was that this kept it cooler, although

it was still nice and warm.

There was about 5,000 registered guests from all over the world plus
probably ten times that many others that came to see the cinemas. As
always, many had horror stories of "adventures" of African travel getting
there, and of Ouaga hotels doing unbelievable things to them. Of course,
the "who paid the most for a minute's call to the outside world" game was
played widely. But most of us just enjoyed being telecommunication-isolated

and happy to be back in west Africa.

The opening show was in the stadium again. A great show, although I admit
being a bit uncomfortable with fireworks directly overhead, and being locked

into the stadium with heavy steel doors for security reasons - even the
toilets were unavailable for most of the show! One publication I saw said
35,000 people were there! Where else is there such a celebration of African


The film l was involved with, "Everyone's Child" played 3 times, and all
went well. There was about 500 people in the audience each showing - a lot
for an English film! The first show, they tried to show the reels out of
order, but that was a minor glitch. It showed in the Cine Neerwaya first -
a great theater which cost about US$2 to local viewers. Then the Cine
Burkina, then the Cine Oubri, an open air theater that costs about US$0.66 a

head, and wasn't as comfortable. We gave an introduction to the first two
shows and sold lots of sound tracks and made contacts after the shows. Our
film won two awards as well. Both came with 2,000,000 CFA or about US$4000
- although we're not sure how the money will come nor to whom exactly.

I have the list of awards given, that I will post soon. (I got the 9th
issue of the FESPACO NEWS that listed them all.) I've heard the English
list I have may vary a bit from the French (and official) list.

Also I picked up two sets of many papers and documents, and will circulate
one set to those that would like to review it and copy bits, etc. I only
ask that anyone only keep it a few days and then pass it back to me or the
next person. Please contact me ( if you would like me to
have this packet come your way. The set I have includes:
The catalogue - 122 pages - the MAIN book of the festival
The MICA pages of titles - about 150 pages of available videos
The set of 10 FESPACO NEWS issues in English
and a bunch of flyers and bits of paper I gathered
in a FESPACO carry bag

I have a couple extra catalogues too. If anyone needs one, please let me
know. I'm happy to give them to whoever needs them the most or can put them

to the best use. Let me know if you want one.

We held an initial meeting of about 35 distributors and festival organizers
one day. The goal of those that attended is to increase the audience for
African film. Some see this for cultural / educational purposes, others to
build a flow of money back to African producers. We found lots of need for
us all to share information amongst ourselves, and I'll be setting up a
separate listserver for this group, with an adjunct of snail mail of the
postings to those without email capabilities. The first posting to this
list will be the names and contact addresses of all those that attended (or
later said they wanted to be in the group). Sally is working on typing that

into a database now. But we learned of an effort in Minneapolis to hold a
conference of festival organizers, and an idea in Europe for a festival
organizers union. Also mention was made of festival research, and documents

on stories of a few model successful African cinema distribution efforts.
We hope to soon share this information with the group. Several attendees
said they would write up their feelings of what we accomplished or could
accomplish and share this with the group via this listserver/snail-mail
combo I'll be assembling. One distributor from Ghana raised the point that
he'd like to see if he could get access to African-American films to
distribute in Africa. Someone else suggested we share our distribution
contracts / agreements and see if there is scope for working out a model
that would be fair to both sides and that we could endorse for general use.

So to all, the listserver is open again. To all who attended FESPACO,
please send us your comments and reviews. What did you think about "Budd
Yam" Gaston Kabore's film that won the Stallion?

Steve Smith

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