Press 04 MAR 2019

Fespaco : Golden Stallion goes to "The mercy of the jungle"

The Fespaco, the Panafrican Festival of Cinema and Television of Ouagadougou delivered Saturday March 2 the awards of its 26th edition. Several Belgian productions have been awarded : The mercy of the jungle by Joël Karekezi, When Arabs danced by Jawad Rhalib and Fatwa by Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud.

The Mercy of the Jungle, by Rwandan film-maker Joël Karekezi, has been awarded the Golden Stallion for the best feature and the award for Best actor for Belgian actor Marc Zinga.

The film is set in 1998 in Kivu Region, on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. At the outbreak of the Second Congo War, Sergeant Xavier, a Rwandan war hero, and young private Faustin, are accidentally left behind in the jungle. With only each other to count on, they embark on an odyssey across the biggest, densest and most violent forest on earth, facing the depths of their own war-torn souls as they battle hunger, thirst and disease.

The Mercy of the Jungle is produced by Neon Rouge Production and co-produced by Tact Production. The film is supported by Eurimages, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel, the French National Centre for Cinematography’s Aide aux cinémas du monde fund, the Brussels-Capital Region, the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, and the Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter scheme. It is co-produced by TV5MONDE, VOO, Be TV and Canal+ International, in association with Take Five, Urban Distribution International and Urban Distribution.

The film is distributed worldwide by Urban Distribution International.

When Arabs Danced, by Jawad Rhalib, took the Silver Stallion for documentary. The film, which won the People’s Choice Award at the prestigious Visions du Réel documentary festival in Nyon, deals with the difficult relationship between art and fundamentalism: A fundamentalist hates life. For him, it presents temptation, a moving away from God and a loss of time before the celestial paradise with its rivers flowing with milk of eternal taste, its streams of wine, its delights and its virgins. Life is the product of disobedience and this disobedience is the work of the ARTIST. The fundamentalist resents the artist, who gives life to matter and leads pure souls away from paradise with sick ideas, a devilish drawing, a bewitching song or an evil dance… The artist is, therefore, the devil and in order to be able to kill him, the fundamentalist labels him the enemy of Allah. Formerly carefree, the Arab-Muslim world has now become the epicentre of a blind and often violent fundamentalism. Pressure from the fundamentalists overwhelms that of the moderates. The voice of reason struggles to be heard. In the face of this hopeless realisation that is threatening our most basic freedoms, Jawad Rhalib questions Islamic Fascism and allows the voice of reason to speak in order to break what is now: “Be an artist and shut up!”.

When Arabs Danced is produced by R&R Productions and co-produced by Zonderling, RTBF, CANVAS, Wallonie Image Production and Free Son Production, with aid from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel and the Flanders Audiovisual Fund. The film is supported by the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the International Council of French-speaking Radio and Television Organisations (CIRTEF), Fondation Hassan II, the Belgian Association of Professional Journalists (AJP) and the Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter scheme. Other partners include Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), TV5MONDE and GAD Distribution.

Last, Fatwa by Tunisian director Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud, co-produced by brothers Dardennes’ Les Films du Fleuve, was awarded Bronze Stallion for feature film and Special Prize of the African Union.

Created in 1969, the Fespaco takes place in Ouagadougou every two years. Dedicated to African works, it is the principal film and television festival in Africa.