Somali Drama Wins Pan African Film Festival Grand Prize

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Somalia’s entry “The Gravedigger’s Wife” by Finish-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.

The 20 million franc CFA ($35,714) prize money and the golden stallion statue were awarded in the heartwarming tale of a gravedigger’s struggles to secure funds to pay for his wife’s surgery.

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

Ahmed, who was not in Ouagadougou to collect his prize, has previously stated that the film was inspired by incidents that occurred in his family.

Mauritanian film director Abderrahmane Sissako, who headed the jury for the 17 feature films in the competition, said it was a brave film from ‘a nation that doesn’t make dozens of films’. “So when there is a film like this one from there, it should be encouraged,” he added.

“It’s a beautiful film that tells humanity” story. After the ceremony, Sissako said it was a love story as well, as sung by Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal and Roch Marc Kabore of Burkina Faso.

The Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, also known as Fespaco, is the world’s largest biannual gathering of African cinema, which attracts international and African film and television professionals from the continent and the diaspora to the Burkinabe capital.

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic and security challenges, this 27th edition was postponed by nearly eight months to Oct. 16-23, 2021.

Reuters/Hauwa Abu

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