OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - “Fievres”, a film by Moroccan director Hicham Ayouch, won the top prize at this year’s FESPACO film festival in Burkina Faso, beating competition that included the Oscar-nominated “Timbuktu”.
FESPACO, which takes place every two years in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, is Africa’s biggest film festival.
“Fievres”, the tale of a tumultuous relationship between a father and his lonely, violent son in a rough French neighborhood, was a surprise winner because not many of those attending the festival had seen it.
This year’s edition of FESPACO was overshadowed by fears of an attack by Islamists, whose occupation of the northern Malian desert town of Timbuktu is the subject of the film with the same name.
“Timbuktu” missed out on an Oscar but had earlier won a string of other international awards, including two at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and seven at the Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars.
Organizers temporarily withdrew “Timbuktu” from the festival due to concerns that its showing might lead to the event being targeted by Islamist groups operating in the region.
That decision was later reversed.
“FESPACO is a platform for everyone to come and express themselves democratically and freely,” said Burkina Faso’s interim president, Michel Kafando.
“Consequently, there was no way we could not show a film that was apparently threatened by terrorism,” he said.
An overnight attack claimed by Islamists killed five people in a bar in the capital of neighboring Mali, a reminder of the threat militants still pose in the region two years after France dispatched troops to fight al Qaeda-linked fighters who occupied Mali’s northern desert.
Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Paul Simao