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Last updated: 05 March, 2007 - Published 10:19 GMT
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Africa at the movies - Fespaco 2007

Nigerian film Ezra, has won the top prize at Africa's premier film showcase event, in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso.

The Fespaco film festival has been running biennially since 1969 and has become a vital cultural event for Africa and its film industry, it was described this week as "the only cultural space for Africans" by a visitor.

African service reporters James Copnall and Umaru Fofana were there for the BBC African service watching the competition films and talking to the film-makers, critics and audiences.

Umaru Fofana caught up with Nigerian director Newton Aduaka, the winner of the Golden Stallion of Yennenga best-film award for his movie, Ezra.

4th March - The winners

Ezra wins the Golden Stallion of Yennenga best-feature award and Umaru Fofana is at the awards ceremony mingling with all the winners at the 20th pan-African film festival.

3rd March

Farewell Fespaco

Umaru Fofana and James Copnall
Reporting for the BBC

James Copnall and Umaru Fofana review the last ten days of competition and give their verdicts on the films they've seen while everyone in Ougadougou awaits the naming of the winners at the Fespaco 2007 award ceremony.

2nd March

The last day to watch competition films before the awarding of the top prize, the Yennenga Stallion, tomorrow evening. One film that has received largely positive reviews is Juju Factory, by the Congolese director Balufu Bakupa Kanyinda. James Copnall went to see it in the company of a Congolese film professor.

Film-makers from Nigeria are disgruntled by the fact that none of their films has ever won the award, this despite Nollywood, as the Nigerian movie industry is known, being the third largest film producer in the world, and the biggest in Africa. Umaru Fofana reports on Nollywood woes in Ougadougou.

Film still of young boy running across a bridge
Ezra is the only Nigerian film in contention for this year's Golden Stallion award

1st March

Umaru Fofana samples the film Daratt which is a piece of work whose director does not feel his art needs to be especially gripping in the conventional sense.

Fespaco has raised questions about the future of Africa's cinemas, which over the years have been closing down or have been used for other events like church services. So, Umaru Fofana decided to revisit the cinematic experience of old while at the festival.

28th February

Unusually this year, there are three Guinean films in the running for the main Fespaco prize, the Yennenga Stallion, but all three directors live outside their country. One of them is Mama Keita, who has a Guinean father and a Vietnamese mother. His film, Le Sourire du Serpent (the Snake's smile) is in competition at Fespaco. James Copnall went to see it.

This year a special prize has been created for the best documentary film on offer at the festival. James Copnall has been to see two of them, Sur les Traces du Bembeya Jazz (In the Steps of Bembeya Jazz), by the Burkinabe Abdoulaye Diallo, and Homeland by the Rwandan, Jacqueline Kalimunda.
Jacqueline Kalimunda
Jacqueline Kalimunda's film, Homeland seeks to explain the roots of Rwanda's genocide

27th February

Moroccan cinema is currently riding high and this is being celebrated with a special out-of-competition festival-within-a-festival at this year's Fespaco. The director of La Vague Blanche (The White Wave), a Moroccan entry to the 2007 competition, Ali El Mahjoub talks to James Copnall about the Moroccan genre.

What about life outside of the cinema? No doubt big hotels, restaurants and supermarkets are booming, but what about Ouagadougou's small traders and small businesses? Umaru Fofana has been finding out.

26th February

The competition for best feature film is getting intense and Ezra, the first English-language contender at this year's festival, was screened today. Umaru Fofana went to see it.

With Africa-based movie The Last King of Scotland shining in Hollywood and Forest Whittaker receiving the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of the Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin; James Copnall in Ougadougou has been asking African film makers and critics at Fespaco what they make of this type of movie about the continent? He told Peter Okwoche the reactions that he had been getting.

25th February 2007

Hicham Ayouch (left) and Moussa Sene-Absa
Festival hopefuls, Moroccan director Hicham Ayouch and Senegalese director Moussa Sene-Absa (r)
In the running for the prestigious Golden Stallion of Yennenga best film award is Teranga Blues by Senegalese director Moussa Sene-Absa, Umaru Fofana took some popcorn and a microphone along to the screening.

24th February 2007

Fespaco is an opportunity for filmmakers to exchange ideas and ensure that Africa's film industry can remain relevant to audiences and continue to thrive in quite harsh economic circumstances.

Moroccan film director Hicham Ayouch, whose film, Les Arêtes du Coeur (Edges of the Heart) is showing at the festival, has come up with a new idea that makes the shooting of a film much cheaper and faster. He says he can shoot a film in 12 days and he told Umaru Fofana how.

The Fespaco 2007 opening ceremony took place on Saturday evening with bands and rap stars, displays of horsmanship and traditional dancing watched by 40,000 people.

The Burkinabe capital is buzzing with hopeful actors and performers looking for their big break as the African film-making community gather for the screenings of the hundreds of films competing for Fespaco awards.

Crowd at the opening ceremony
Fespaco means "everything" to the people of Ougadougou, Burkina Faso and the entire region
James Copnall has been lapping up the party atmosphere at the festival's lavish opening ceremony, and he even found time to take in a film or two.

What does Fespaco mean to people in Burkina Faso and the region?

The Biennial film festival, Fespaco will run for eight days, show-casing thousands of films from across the continent including feature films, short films and documentaries. The top prize the Etalon D'or de Yennenga, or Golden Stallion of Yennenga will be awarded at the end of the festival for the best feature film. James Copnall investigates what the festival means to the region.

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