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FESPACO: Focus on entrepreneurship of women directors in ACP countries

As a partner of the 27th FESPACO, the ACP-EU Culture Programme organised a series of panel discussions, one of which entitled “Panel on Strengthening Women’s Entrepreneurship in ACP Countries” brought together five multidisciplinary women operators active in the field of cinema and television.

The discussions, led by Senegalese director and producer Rama Thiaw, highlighted the many challenges facing women in the film industry, including the lack of support, particularly financial, or the need to diversify their activities in order to remain in the business, and the list goes on.

In this context, the question arose as to the artistic approach adopted by each of the speakers, from which we present here some extracts:

For Diane Kaneza (Burundi) the issue of identity and the need to reorient the narrative are essential. “As a woman, I chose to talk about our realities as Burundians, to clarify them, to bring them to light. These are the realities I want to share with my children and grandchildren.

Samantha Biffot, like other African women directors, wants to help present Africa and African women in a different light. “I am passionate about genre cinema. There are so many realities on the continent that are not or hardly told. I also want to tell funny stories, to get away from the miserabilistic or dramatic narrative. But also, to showcase strong women as role models,” says the Gabonese director.

“Cinema can help control the perceptions that others have of us. When I read the headlines on the release of my film, Freda, I realise that this is the first time I have seen ‘Haiti’ associated with concepts such as love or beauty in the same sentence. There is such a lack of understanding of each other! It would be good to control what is said about us,” insists Gessica Généus, a Haitian director.

Marie-Laurentine Bayala, journalist and director from Burkina Faso, reminds us that “cinema contributes to changing reality. Making films means taking a stand in a society where men have decision-making power. Women have the capacity to take responsibility for themselves, for their decisions, for their vision of the world. It is time for change and women have understood this. We are not at war with men; on the contrary, together we will build the world.

Thanks also to the very personal testimonies of the women professionals present, the debate took a more concrete turn, focusing on the role of entrepreneurship, the need to create networks allowing for a better sharing of experiences, and the need to address both French and English-speaking financiers. In the end, the idea was put forward to lay the foundations of a production fund for women directors and producers that could defend their interests vis-à-vis the public authorities, while also facilitating the search for private sector funding. The participants undertook to continue their exchanges on this subject after FESPACO.


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