The Pan-African Film Festival crowns Ahmed Khadar’s “Gravedigger’s Wife”

Somali director Ahmed Khadar won the Yennenga Gold Standard on Saturday 23 Octobere Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco) for his first feature film The Gravedigger’s Wife.

The 40-year-old director, also of Finnish nationality and whose film is shot in Djibouti in the original Somali version, did not take part in the closing ceremony of the festival in the Burkinabè capital. The president of the jury which awarded him the prize, the Mauritanian Abderrahmane Sissako, assured that “For any African filmmaker, it is the best price that one can have, it is a great pride”.

→ INVESTIGATION. Cinema, Africa animates the Annecy Festival

Born in Mogadishu, Ahmed Khadar, also a writer, emigrated to Finland at the age of 16 with his family and a refugee status. He directs his first short film, Me ei vietetä joulua, in 2014, then two more in 2017, Yövaras, and 2018, The Killing of Cahceravga.

Directors Gessica Géneus and Leyla Bouzid also rewarded

Presented in July at the Cannes film festival as part of the International Critics’ Week, The Gravedigger’s Wife had received a good reception. The film deals with the love story of a couple living with their sons in a poor district of Djibouti. When Nasra, the wife – played by Somali-born Canadian model Yasmin Warsame – suffers from severe kidney disease and must undergo emergency surgery, the family’s balance is threatened and her gravedigger husband Guled must find money to pay for the expensive operation.

The Silver Standard awarded Freda, by the Haitian Gessica Géneus. Chronicle of daily life in a popular district of Port-au-Prince, this wonderful film offers a moving and funny look at Haitian women.

→ PORTRAIT. Gessica Géneus films Haiti between light and darkness

The Bronze Standard goes to A story of love and desire by Tunisian Leyla Bouzid, a gracious film already awarded this year the Grand Prize of the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival. The Best Actress Award went to Sierra Leonean-born Brit Zainab Jah for her role in Farewell Amor by Ekwa Msangi (Tanzania), while among men Alassane Sy stood out for his role in Baamum Nafi from Senegalese Mamadou Dia.

With his film Serbi (“White fabrics”) which deals with the dignity of women in a patriarchal society, the Senegalese Moly Kane wins the gold foal in the short film fiction section. Amani Rwandan Alliah Fafin and Zalissa of the Burkinabè Carine Bado receive respectively silver and bronze.

Senegal, guest of honor at Fespaco 2021

The trophies were presented to the Ouaga 2000 sports center by the Burkinabè presidents Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and Senegalese Macky Sall, whose country was the guest of honor of 27e Fespaco.

Glad to have succeeded during the festival the screening of “500 works for the benefit of 150,000 festival-goers” from 64 countries, “Despite adversity”, linked to insecurity and Covid-19, the general delegate of Fespaco Moussa Alex Sawadogo, made an appointment from February 25 to March 4, 2023 in Ouagadougou for the 28e edition of the festival.

a “Mini Fespaco” itinerant should take place in the north of Burkina Faso, the region most affected by the jihadist attacks that hit this country and which, in six years, have left around 2,000 dead and 1.4 million displaced.


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