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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March, 2005, 09:12 GMT
Burkina Faso gets new film school
Gaston Kabore
Kabore shot only the second film ever made in Burkina Faso
Director Gaston Kabore, who won the top prize at Fespaco in 1997 for his film Buud Yam, has opened a training school for new filmmakers in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou.

The school, named Imagine, was built with millions of CFA of Kabore's own money and opened its doors for the African film festival Fespaco 2005.

Kabore is the country's most famous director, but has not himself made a film since Buud Yam, instead focusing his efforts on furthering the careers of the continent's up-and-coming filmmakers.

"It's not enough to do films," he told the BBC.

"I owe much to my people, my country and my continent."


Kabore insists he is grappling with one of African film's most pressing problems - the lack of training schools in Africa, which means many of the continent's filmmakers train abroad.

African productions are also forced to rely on European crews - the theme of this year's Fespaco is "training and professional stakes" for precisely this reason.

Buud Yam
Buud Yam portrayed a powerful emotional journey
Kabore believes that Imagine can help put the spirit of the festival into practice.

In lecture rooms, kitted out with state-of-the-art digital editing equipment, film professionals from all over Africa will be able to hone their skills and learn new techniques.

"It's like a movie that we are shooting," Kabore said of the frantic rush to finish construction in time for Fespaco.

"It's not only a building. There's a spirit as well... the idea with Imagine is to create an institute of storytelling."

Born in 1952, Kabore studied history at the Sorbonne in Paris, before going to film school. He returned to Burkina to teach at the national film institute, which closed in 1987.

His directing achievements are all the more remarkable due to the degenerative eye condition that has impaired his sight for more than a decade. He relies on a trusted team of crew, and his own innate ability to frame the shots that he wants to see in his head.

In Wend Kuni - his first feature film and only the second ever made in the country - the central character is a mute orphan. Fifteen years later, Buud Yam saw the hero set out on a search for his parents, discovering his own identity in the process.

Kabore has said the two films constitute a metaphor for Africa's own struggle for a post-colonial voice and identity.

"After the trauma of colonialism, once you are aware you can speak for yourself, what are you going to say?"



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