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Africa''s top film festival opens 2/26/2007
Africa''s biggest film festival has opened in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, showcasing some of the best films from across the continent.
The Pan-African Film and Television Festival, Fespaco, is a biennial event that has been running since 1969.

Fespaco is vital for African directors because African films struggle to find a market, both in Africa and in the rest of the world, correspondents say.

More than 200 films will be shown at the festival, which runs until 3 March.

Cinemas have been closing in many African countries, leading the monthly magazine Continental to describe the African film industry as "in crisis".

For many involved in the film industry, Fespaco has become a hugely important event.

"It has succeeded because it is a necessity. It is the only cultural space for Africans," Rasmane Ouedrago, an actor from Burkina Faso, told Reuters news agency.

"In Cannes, Venice, Berlin, you don''t see as many of our films," he said.

Clash with West

This year''s Fespaco was opened with a lavish ceremony at which 40,000 people watched displays of horsemanship and traditional dancing, and listened to rap stars and boy bands dressed in green army fatigues.

Among the performers was Burkina Faso''s top rap group, Yelen.

The top prize, the Etalon d''Or de Yennenga, of the Golden Stallion of Yennenga, will be awarded to the best feature film.

This year, the vast majority of the films on show are in French, despite the recent rise of South African cinema.

Many of the films deal with issues of traditional values and modernity. Another emerging theme seems to be the clash between Africa and the West, says the BBC''s James Copnall in Ouagadougou.

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