Zain, the leading African and Middle East mobile operator announces its sponsorship of the popular Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) held in Burkina Faso. The bi-annual festival is the biggest regular cultural event on the African continent and it focuses on African film and African filmmakers. First held in 1969, this year is the 40th anniversary of FESPACO and runs from 28 February to 7 March, 2009 beginning with a large opening spectacular in Stade du 4-aout, the national stadium in Ouagadougou.
The festival has evolved into an internationally recognised and respected event not only on the African continent but in the world at large. Specifically for African film industry professionals offering them the chance to establish relationships, exchange ideas, and ultimately promote their work, FESPACO’s overall aim is to “contribute to the expansion and development of African cinema as means of expression, education, and awareness-raising.”
Speaking about the sponsorship, Zain’s Chief Commercial Officer Tito Alaiaid “We are very excited to be part of such a huge initiative. This sponsorship is directly in line with Zain’s commitment of supporting and promoting local arts and culture throughout Africa. We believe in the potential Africa possesses in this area and will continue to do all we can to help support individuals and groups involved.”
Zain is the exclusive sponsor of the festival. Within the sponsorship package Zain will be the exclusive supplier of mobile phone services for the festival as well as branding at the stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies and in a large tent at the cultural centre where the movies will be projected.
Over the years Zain has sponsored many cultural and educational events across the African continent such as the historic international concert celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday in London, sponsorship of the first MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs), and through a partnership with Ericsson and the Earth Institute they have signed a deal to provide mobile communications and internet connectivity to the Millennium Villages Project which covers up to 400,000 people in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. Additionally, Zain sponsors the popular televised university game show Zain Africa Challenge which reaches an audience of millions across eight countries on the continent.
Also coinciding with the 20th anniversary for the African Film Library of Ouagadougou, this year’s FESPACO has “African cinema: tourism and cultural heritage” as the theme. The official competition is open to feature films, short films and documentaries and is exclusively reserved for African and diaspora films. The diaspora competition is reserved for feature films made by filmmakers from the diaspora. Additionally Zain in partnership with RFI and BBC, is sponsoring a special prize worth two million CFA francs (US$4000) will be given to the winners
This year the festival will pay tribute to Ousmane Sembene, doyen of African filmmakers and pioneer of FESPACO, who passed away on 9 June 2007. He was one of the pioneers of African movie industry and a regular of FESPACO endeavouring to promote FESPACO and to unite filmmakers across the continent for the development of African cinema.