Pan-African filmmakers: Minutes from the FEPACI congress

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On May 3rd to 5th 2013 the FEPACI, pan-African filmmakers' federation, congress took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. This was a historic event as the congress was being held for the first time since 2006. Delegates to the three-day programme included representatives from 38 African countries and Diaspora communities as well as many observers, journalists and guests.

On the opening day South Africa's Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, welcomed an offer by the Kenyan government to move the rotating secretariat to Nairobi and fund FEPACI with one million US$ per year. He further said in his keynote address "We are once again renewing the dialogue on how Africa takes forward its rebirth; placing arts, culture and heritage, and in particular film, at the centre of this endeavor. It is time that as Africans we stand up and build the mutually beneficial partnerships among ourselves to help ensure the sustainability of our sector."

On day two working groups discussed the future structure and activities of FEPACI. Issues of the constitution, the rotating location of the secretariat, the relation to the AU and the fulfillment of its mandates were hotly disputed items. Reports were then presented in a lively atmosphere to the plenary session of the third and final day. One of the more controversial items debated was the offer and move to Kenya.

Debates on the final day achieved a number of significant outcomes. The constitution was amended to allow a more transparent but at the same time effective administration. Developments of projects like the African Film Fund are to be accelerated. Migration of the secretariat will be governed by certain requirements and these shall determine the move to Kenya.

Voting for the new committee and office bearers was also carried out in May. Cheikh Oumar Sissoko, veteran filmmaker, former Malian minister of culture and cousin of the FEPACI founder Ousmane Sembene, became the new Secretary General. Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe was confirmed as the FEPACI representative organization for Zimbabwe at the time that all other country representative organizations were confirmed.