Félicité, a story about a nightclub singer in Kinshasa who has to desperately find funds to pay for her son’s treatment after a road accident, won the top prize at Africa’s top film festival at the weekend.
The film won the Étalon de Yennenga (Golden Yennenga Stallion) award at the 25th edition of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco), held in the capital of Burkina Faso.
The prize adds to the Silver Bear jury prize awarded to Félicité two weeks earlier at the Berlin International Film Festival or Berlinale.
Fespaco’s Silver Stallion was awarded to Un Orage Africain (An African Storm), an anti-colonial tale by Benin director Sylvestre Amoussou, and the Bronze Stallion to A Mile in My Shoes, a drama by Said Khallaf of Morocco.
Félicité, played by actress Veronique Beya Mputu, is a single mom whose teenage son, Samo, was in a nasty motorcycle accident that has left him bloodied and bedridden at a municipal hospital. In order to pay for doctors to fix his broken leg — the operation costs around US$600, which is a small fortune in the Democratic Republic of Congo — Felicite is forced to hit up everyone in town for money, including a mob boss who has her beaten violently by his thugs, only to wind up giving her what she wants.
Félicité is Senegalese-French director Alain Gomis’s fourth feature film. His first film “L’Afrance,” about young Senegalese men who face residency issues while living in Paris, won the Silver Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. Then came his next film “Andalucia,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2007. His last film “Aujourd’hui (Tey),” was selected for competition at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival, won the Golden Stallion at Fespaco in 2013 and was chosen as Senegal’s entry for an Oscar® nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
The biannual Fespaco, which took place from 25 February- 4 March this year, features various film competitions to demonstrate the level of expertise and excellence in the continent’s cinema.
The festival, whose stated aim is to “contribute to the expansion and development of African cinema as means of expression, education and awareness-raising”, accepts only films made by African filmmakers for competition.