As I checked on Google for a link for this post, I came up with results from other blogs that had phrases like ”…of course, I have always dreamed of going to
Add to that the fact that even after running this festival for 20 years, there are never enough schedules. Ever. They have come up with brilliant solutions, though, like handwriting it on a big sheet of paper and posting it on the street corner near
Of course, the poor tourists are also invariably followed by a huge entourage of local vendors trying to force them buy djembés and toy bicycles made out of old bug spray cans. “Maybe this foreigner doesn’t want a toy bicycle right now…. But if I wave one in his face every three minutes, he might discover a hidden, burning desire to own one. Or possibly two!!!” And their success at bullying the tourists just makes them harder for the rest of us to deal with. During the rest of the year, vendors can be discouraged with just a friendly comment along the lines of “Not today. Maybe another time. Good luck.” But FESPACO time means long explanations and a firm tone of voice. “I’m not a tourist. I’ve lived here for eight years. I have everything: sardine can thumb pianos, bogolan tablecloths, djembes… We have 4 djembes at home! Really!”
And there’s this: most of the time, there’s not all that much to do in Ouaga. Yes, I know. I make this place sound like the Fun Capitol of West Africa in my blog. But really, it’s a little dull. But then when there finally is something to see, it floods with tourists and you can’t even get tickets to many of the good events. So, I have decided to stay away and let the tourists enjoy their films and buy their knick knacks.
Not that I would probably enjoy the films anyway. Frankly, most Burkinabé films are very depressing. Take Indian cinema: in general it’s very escapist, entertaining, colourful and very, very popular. My pal, K. who lived for years in
Then there’s Ouaga: the movie theatres here are CLOSING! That’s right. In the showcase city of
Why don’t the Burkinabé go to films here? Well, the films made by Burkinabé directors tend to be gritty, realistic stories of village life. Very authentic. Very depressing. Many of them are almost like a documentary, such as the one that shows the hard life of a goldminer here. But these kinds of films do not interest the average Burkinabé filmgoer. At all. So, why make them? Here’s my theory: They make them to suck up to the European cinema world, that’s why. Their goal is not to make films to appeal to the Burkinabé public. Their films are carefully aimed at the (predominantly white) people that give out prizes and make it possible to get the hell out of
So, that’s really my main problem with the film festival. I feel that it’s actually poisoned the development of cinema here. There are local tv shows that are funny and clever and have large local audiences. But the world of film is crippled by “Fespaco-itis”: the strong tendency to pander to the expectations and tastes of the European audience.