Somali drama wins grand prize at Pan-African film festival

A host holds the Yennenga Gold Standard (Yennega Gold Standard) won by Somali director Ahmed Khadar during the closing ceremony of the Ouagadougou Pan-African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO) at the Palais des Sports from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on October 23, 2021 REUTERS / Anne Mimault

OUAGADOUGOU, October 23 (Reuters) – Somali film “The Gravedigger’s Wife” by Finnish-Somali writer-director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed has won the prestigious Stallion of Yennenga Grand Prize for Best Film at the Pan-African Film Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Sunday.

The poignant drama about a gravedigger’s struggles to raise money to pay for his wife’s surgery, won the cash prize of 20 million CFA francs ($ 35,714) and the gold stallion statue.

The film, which was Somalia’s first official entry in the Best International Feature Film category at the 2021 Oscars, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in July.

Ahmed, who was not in Ouagadougou to collect his prize, previously said the film was inspired by incidents in his family.

Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako, who chaired the jury for the 17 feature films in competition, told Reuters it was a brave film from a country that does not make many films. “So when there’s a movie like this going from there, you have to cheer it on.”

“It’s a beautiful film that tells a story with humanity. It’s also a love story,” said Sissako after the ceremony chaired by Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Roch Marc Kaboré of Burkina Faso.

The Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, known as Fespaco, is the largest biannual meeting of African cinema which attracts international and African film and television professionals from the continent and the diaspora in the Burkinabè capital.

This 27th edition has been postponed by nearly eight months to October 16-23, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the security challenges facing the country. Read more

($ 1 = 560.0000 CFA francs)

Reporting by Anne Mimault and Thiam Ndiaga; Written by Bate Felix; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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