OUAGADOUGOU in Burkina Faso -- Saturday's opening of Africa's largest film festival is scheduled amid the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a growing jihadi rebellion in West Africa. This insurgency has displaced over 1 million people in recent years and killed thousands more.
Alex Moussa Sawadogo is the head of the Pan-African Film and TV Festival in Ouagadougou. He said that organizers wanted to continue with the event, known as FESPACO, despite the difficulties to show Burkina Faso "inspire imagination through cinema."
He said that the event would be a FESPACO because it was taking place in harsh security and poor health conditions.
Sawadogo stated that the number of venues was reduced for this year.
This festival will showcase works from African filmmakers as well as works made on the continent over the course of a week. From nearly 1,200 submissions, 282 films were selected to compete. Some of these films have already been shown at festivals like Cannes or Toronto Film Festival.
Diallo, 59, stated that "In these very difficult circumstances for Burkina Faso as well as all the Sahel countries because of the terrorist attack, I have had the pleasure to offer a beautiful comedy, to make people smile and to entertain them and ask questions about their current identity, show our identities and enjoy theirs."
Burkina Faso was once considered a beacon for peaceful coexistence in the region. Some attribute this to its rich cultural scene.
"Culture is the foundation for development. It is essential for peaceful living," Alexander Widmer, head for governance at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Burkina Faso said. The agency co-funds the film festival.
Some believe the event will be a chance to unify a nation that is becoming increasingly fractured and remind the rest of the world that they are still open for business.
Koudbi Kabore (a historian and researcher at Joseph Ki Zerbo University, Ouagadougou) said that FESPACO is now more important than ever. It showcases African cinema and Burkina Faso will no doubt return to its image as a destination for investment and business.