The Festival Panafrican du Cinéma de Ouagadougou—known as FESPACO—began in 1969 and, over the years, has grown into the largest and most prestigious film festival showcasing pan-African and African diasporic films. Held biannually in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, FESPACO is dedicated specifically to films by African and African diaspora directors. The longstanding mission of FESPACO is to uncover, archive, and reaffirm the representation of the peoples of the African continent and its global diaspora.
Despite the globally significant contributions of the festival, the cinematic and cultural traditions it champions are little known in the United States outside of small groups of scholars, experts, and audience constituencies. To counter this, and to regularize the cultural accessibility of pan-African and African diasporic cinema in the U.S. cultural landscape, IU Cinema, in conjunction with Black Camera: An International Film Journal and the Center for Documentary Research and Practice—and with support from the African Studies Program—organized a film and conversation series called Best of FESPACO in April 2023 here at IU Bloomington.
The event was inclusive of dedicated film screenings, screening Q&A/talkback sessions, visiting filmmakers, a panel with experts in the field, and class visit/student workshops. All events were free and open to the public.