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African festival crowns films on peacekeepers, polygamy

A Nigerian movie about the bond between two peacekeepers and a Burkinabe tale of a woman who takes a second husband to punish an abusive partner shared top prize at an African film festival Sunday.

"An unusual woman" by Burkinabe director Abdoulaye Dao and "The Eternal" by Nigeria's Chike Ibekwe shared the Golden Screen best film award at the 14th edition of the Black Screens festival in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde.

Dao's film tells the story of a wealthy businesswoman trapped in marriage to an unemployed, violent and unfaithful man, who decides to take a second spouse.

"The Eternal" is a story of friendship between two peacekeepers, one of whom is killed as they return from a mission in Sierra Leone, and whose ghost returns to haunt his companion.

The world's poorest continent won a share of red-carpet glory at the Cannes festival last month when Chad director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's "A Screaming Man" scooped the jury prize.

Yet cinemas across Africa are pulling down screens, converted to churches, nightclubs or warehouses. Around 50 remain in business - most in South Africa and Kenya with a few in Nigeria.

French director Claire Denis, whose film about child soldiers "White Material" caused a stir at last year's Venice Film Festival, pleaded at the closing ceremony Monday for a drive to reopen cinemas in Yaounde.

The Cameroonian capital no longer has a single movie house, with viewings at the Black Screens festival - which is free to the public - taking place across conference rooms and cultural centres in the city.

Its organiser the Cameroonian director Bassek ba Kobhio said he was simply happy the festival was able to take place.