Africa on the big screen

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

A handful of enthusiasts have created an African film festival in Luxembourg. A world that is often unknown to Westerners, yet has enormous potential. Here are some explanations.

At the end of April, the Cinémathèque hosted four evenings dedicated to African cinema. A first in Luxembourg. Not that African films are never shown in the Grand Duchy, but it must be said that the occasion is rare enough to motivate the enthusiasts of Okra asbl to launch the first festival of its kind in the country. "In general, in Europe, we don't really have the opportunity to see many African films and especially to see quality films, even if we know that not all films are meant to be seen in cinemas, " explains Fatoumata Kaba, president of the Okra association. This year, the association sent two representatives to the Mecca of African film, the Fespaco festival (Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou) in Burkina Faso, to make themselves known there and to bring back to Luxembourg the names of the latest movies to watch. For Fatoumata Kaba and her small team, it is important to follow the news of such a festival, which is essential for the sector. And why not glean contacts for the next editions of the Luxembourg festival.

Alex Moussa Sawadogo is the general delegate of Fespaco. In an interview with the Journal via videoconference from Burkina Faso, he explains the importance of a festival like this for the African continent. For him, the festival can be an unexpected showcase for artists in countries where cinemas are scarce: "This is why an African film festival is so important, because Africans who make auteur films do not always manage to attract many people to the big cinemas. Festivals take over to show African films, to give people the chance to see these films. I believe that if festivals did not exist in these countries, it would be very difficult. I think the struggle of these festivals is to show these films, to promote them as well."

The film expert, who launched the Berlin African Film Festival – Afrikamera – in 2007, dreams of a day when African films will have as much space as their European counterparts on posters. "My goal is also to bring these films one day to be seen in a very normal way, like a French film, a German film, or an American film in theatres. I say it very often, the day I walk down the streets of Berlin and see posters of African films in cinemas, I think that day I will stop doing festivals."

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