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“Welcome to the Ecrans Noirs film festival”
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“Welcome to the Ecrans Noirs film festival”

Medjom ColbieA film festival in Cameroon holds special importance as a powerful boost to the movie industry, writes Medjom Colbie, 22, a Correspondent from Yaounde in Cameroon. 

Considered as one of the important meetings of cinema in Africa, “Ecrans Noirs” is a film festival founded in 1997  to promote the seventh art of the continent and Cameroon in particular.

The festival is the occasion for amateurs and professionals of the movie industry to discuss film’s issues, to meet actors and directors of the continent, to enrich and benefit from all activities taking place out of projection rooms through training sessions and other cultural activities developed on the festival village.

Since 2008, the event includes a contest opposing many African and foreigner contestants. At the end of the festival, winners are given awards in recognition of their work in the cinematographic art.

The competition is held in four categories: the international competition rewarding full length and short films and documentary; the foreign movies competition which rewards long film fiction; the Central Africa competition and the Cameroonian competition.

Everything is planned months early, and one of the paramount stages is the competition of the official festival logo and poster, launched about six months earlier nationwide. As far as the 20th edition is concerned, the winner is the graphic designer Silveira Marie.

“Ecrans Noirs” is a real breath of fresh air for the Cameroonian movie industry, since during that period a lot about Cameroon cinema is highlighted. The festival promotes amateur art through the competition “Atelier 10 jours pour un film”, which principally aims to encourage young men and women under 30 to create cinematographic arts that can contribute to sensitisation efforts. This competition aims to form young amateurs in script-writing, production and direction for shorts films; to promote the creativity and inspiration of African youths; to present upcoming film-makers on the international market; and to grant excellence. For this 20th edition, Frank Thierry, Yolande Marcelle Welimoum and Felicité Yvette Asseh Asseh are the winners selected for their creativity and originality in producing scripts of short films of less than ten minutes each. They will each get financial support for the realisation of their projects, and a grant plus a training course in Berlin, Germany, offered by the Germany Cooperation.

“Ecrans Noirs” is also the occasion for Cameroonians to gain knowledge about cinema. A workshop entitled “Ciné-livre” takes place during the festival under the theme “film adaptation of literary works: an inexhaustible source”. This workshop, organised in partnership with the Specialised Institute of Film Training and broadcasting of Central Africa, is aimed to accompany and encourage experienced Central-African script-writers and writers through techniques and screen adaptation training to seize the opportunity offered by existing literary writings to make good screen adaptations. In addition, copyrights issues, aesthetics and finance issues are the problematic questions raised during the workshop.

Cameroonian movies which are still unknown by the public have the opportunity to be projected during the festival, which solves the problem of projection room shortages in Cameroon. For more than five years, projection rooms have been officially locked in Cameroon, depriving Cameroonians of watching films. The only time they can watch movies is when institutes such as the French institute, Cameroonian institute or event halls open their doors. So the festival “Ecrans Noirs” is there to help make Cameroonians to feel like “back in those days when projection halls were available”.

We cannot stress that enough: cinema festivals play a double role. They contribute to the promotion of cinema works on one hand and to check out treasures such as movies, project movies and rising talent on another hand. Cameroon’s movie industry is still emerging, and to achieve the top it needs help from those who are willing to give that help. For an environment marked by little opportunity to watch a film in a projection hall, the festival “Ecrans Noirs” is the boost that Cameroon’s seventh art needs.

The 2016 edition of the festival is going to take place from July 15 to 23 at the conference hall of Yaoundé under the theme “Festivals and promotion of cinema”.

Photo credit: Tribal Theatre via photopin (license)

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About me: I am a student of Mass Communication in Yaounde. I am impassioned with journalism and interested in other communication fields. I spend my free time writing, not for my personal interest only, and feel comfortable reporting on newsworthy and feature stories. I also run a personal blog.

My wish is to be a talented reporter in all fields and to achieve what can be summed up in only two words: work hard. To me, the best is still to come.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/
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