Ouagadougou (AFP) - An African road movie about four women wowed its audience Sunday as it kicked off the Panafrican cinema and television festival (Fespaco), a showcase for the continent's burgeoning film industry.
"Borders" ("Frontieres") directed by Apolline Traore, a Fespaco laureate in 2013, sweeps across Africa as its protagonists journey through Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin on their way to Nigeria.
Along the way the women -- Ivorian, Senegalese, Burkinabe and Nigerian actresses -- are spared nothing as they are beset by customs officers, thieves, murderers and rapists.
The film -- the first feature-length film to show at the festival -- deals with "the bravery of women," Traore told AFP at the festival in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou.
"There is a tendency to portray women, particularly African women, as housewives, sweet gentle women. But it is important to show another side," the Burkinabe director added.
She said the film also highlights a growing regional problem.
"We talk a lot in cinema and in the wider world of the journeys from Africa to Europe, but travelling in the region is itself is a big problem that no one talks about."
She denounced the lack of integration in the region despite official policies on free circulation of people and goods.
Financed with public funds and by French telecoms group Orange, the film will be distributed throughout francophone Africa and in Europe, Traore said.
It is in competition with another 163 films all hoping to win the "Etalon de Yennenga" ("Stallion of Yennenga) top prize.
Another 50 films will be shown out of competition.
Alongside the Fespaco festival, the 18th MICA festival for African film and television output got underway in Ouagadougou on Sunday.
"There's no point making films, printing them and then not being able to sell them," said Salif Traore, a Malian promoter attending MICA for the fifth time.
"MICA is important as a springboard for us in relation to buyers and professional distributors who come here from the world over," he added.
A lot of that business is done with the African diaspora, said the event's director Suzanne Kourouma.
MICA will show a hundred films of all genres, as well as hosting workshops, discussions and master classes, she added.
For Abdoul Aziz Cisse, of Senegal's Film and Broadcasting Industry Promotion Fund (FOPICA), the event could help relaunch his nation's film industry and "put us in touch with other players to help develop cinematic cooperation".
MICA was created in 1983 by African cinema and audiovisual professionals as an autonomous marketplace for African film.