Prominent Ghanaian filmmaker, Kwaw Ansah, has been invited by the organisers of the Pan-African Film and TV Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), to chair the jury for feature films at the 24th edition of the biennial festival in February next year.
FESPACO is the biggest regular cultural event in Africa and it focuses on African filmmakers and their work.
The festival’s stated aim is to “contribute to the expansion and development of African cinema as a means of expression, education and awareness-raising.”
A letter from Michel Ouedraogo, Director General of FESPACO, to Kwaw Ansah stated: “Convinced that the credibility of the festival is primarily based on the quality of the personalities responsible for judging the film and audiovisual works, I have the honour to inform you that you have been chosen as the Chairperson for the official jury for feature films.”
The theme for the 2015 festival is “African Cinema: Production and Distribution in the Digital Era”.
As chairperson for the jury for feature films, Kwaw Ansah and his other jury members would decide which film grabs the Etalon de Yennenga, the highest award at the festival.
“FESPACO has done a lot to keep issues about African cinema relevant at all times. It is the Mecca for filmmakers on the continent and those from the African Diaspora and I see it as a honour to chair the main jury next year,” Kwaw Ansah told Daily Graphic in reaction to his upcoming FESPACO assignment.
The man is not new to the festival, having won the top prize himself in 1989 with his Heritage Africa film which also won the OAU Prize for relevant content in that same year.
His earlier feature film, Love Brewed in the African Pot, also won the Oumarou Ganda Prize for Best First Film in 1981.
Crossroads of People, Crossroads of Trade, another film by Kwaw Ansah, won the Jury’s Special Prize in 1995.
Only films presented in the 35mm format were accepted in competition for the Etalon de Yennenga but that policy is set to change with effect from the 2015 festival. Films in digital format can now be presented and nominated for the prestigious trophy.
Another innovation earmarked for the next FESPACO is that films from the African Diaspora can now contest for the festival’s top prize as well as the Best Short Film, Best Documentary and Best Television Series. Those categories were previously open to only productions from the continent.
The cash that accompanies each trophy has also been raised from 10 million FCFA to 20 million
“All these new measures speak of how FESPACO is trying to keep in step with contemporary technology and how it is pushing for better rewards for creative folks,” Kwaw Ansah said.
He reminded Ghanaian filmmakers that the deadline for the submission of films for the competition is October 31, 2014, while the deadline for the registration of films for the African International Film Market (MICA) at FESPACO is November 30, 2014.