Somali director Ahmed Khadar awarded a Gold Standard

MOVIE THEATER – The winners of the 28e edition of Fespaco distinguished the filmmaker for The Gravedigger’s Wife, which he presented at Cannes, last July.

It would be “For any African filmmaker, the best price we can have”, according to the president of the jury Abderrahmane Sissako: the Somali director Ahmed Khadar on Saturday won the Yennenga Gold Standard of the 27e Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco) for his first feature film The Gravedigger’s Wife. The 40-year-old director, also of Finnish nationality and whose film is shot in Djibouti in the original Somali version, did not take part in the closing ceremony of the festival in the Burkinabè capital.

Presented in July at the Cannes film festival as part of the International Critics’ Week, The Gravedigger’s Wife had received a good reception. The film deals with the love story of a couple living with their sons in a poor district of Djibouti. When Nasra, the wife – played by Somali-born Canadian model Yasmin Warsame – suffers from severe kidney disease and must undergo emergency surgery, the family’s balance is threatened and her gravedigger husband Guled must find money to pay for the expensive operation. In addition to the supreme award, The Gravedigger’s Wife also won the award for best music, at the 27e edition of Fespaco.

Born in Mogadishu, Ahmed Khadar, also a writer, immigrated to Finland at the age of 16 with his family and refugee status. He directs his first short film, Me ei vietetä joulua, in 2014, then two more in 2017, Yövaras, and 2018, The Killing of CahceravgTo.

A successful festival despite the crises

Glad to have succeeded during the festival, to project “500 works for the benefit of 150,000 festival-goers” from 64 countries, “Despite adversity” linked to insecurity and Covid-19, the general delegate of Fespaco Moussa Alex Sawadogo, made an appointment from February 25 to March 4, 2023 in Ouagadougou for the 28e edition of the festival.

The Silver Standard awarded Freda, by Haitian Gessica Geneus and the Bronze Stallion goes to A story of love and desire by Tunisian Leyla Bouzid. The Best Actress Award went to Sierra Leonean-born Brit Zainab Jah for her role in Farewell Amor by Ekwa Msangi (Tanzania), while among men Alassane Sy stood out for his role in Baamum Nafi from Senegalese Mamadou Dia. With his film Serbi (White fabrics) which deals with the dignity of women in a patriarchal society, Senegalese Moly Kane won the gold foal in the short film fiction section. Amani Rwandan Alliah Fafin and Zalissa of the Burkinabè Carine Bado were respectively awarded the silver foal and the bronze foal.

The trophies were presented to the Ouaga 2000 Sports Palace by Burkinabé presidents Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and Senegalese Macky Sall, whose country was the guest of honor at the 27e edition of Fespaco. A traveling “mini Fespaco” is to take place in the north of Burkina Faso, the region most affected by the jihadist attacks which hit this country and which, in six years, have left around 2,000 dead and 1.4 million displaced.


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