A film raging against colonialism and the exploitation of Africa wowed viewers at the continent’s top cinema festival Wednesday in Ougadougou, winning shouts of approval at a screening packed to bursting point.
“The African Storm” tells the story of an African president who nationalises businesses run by racist, cynical Western executives.
Directed and produced by its Beninese star Sylvestre Amoussou, it tackles several hot-button issues including an exit from the CFA franc currency, closer ties with Russia and China as opposed to the West, criticism of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and pride in being African.
One of 20 feature-length movies on show at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival (Fespaco) in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, the movie was punctuated by applause and cries of approval when it screened on Wednesday.
“It’s not an anti-European film, but a film against the governments of states that exploit us,” Amoussou said, adding that the project had been “fully-funded by Africans”.
Commenting on the reaction of the crowd, he told AFP: “People are frustrated. Lots of people are thinking the same as what I put on the screen, but no one dares to say it and no one has the opportunity to say it.
“Young people say to me, ‘But when are Africans going to make a real film about the problems facing us?’ I said, ‘One day I’ll make it.’ I’ve been working on this film for 10 years.”
Amoussou summed up his message as this: “Africans, you have a beautiful continent. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. We have to think about the future and our children.”
He said it was painful to see Africans dying while trying to reach Europe, a “hypothetical paradise”, when “they have a rich continent” themselves.
Survivor testimonies point to at least 350 deaths among migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa this year, many of them sub-Saharan Africans.
Fespaco runs until March 4, with organisers expecting more than 100,000 visitors. Ouagadougou has hosted the jamboree since 1969.