A Nigerian film about a former child soldier of Sierra Leone's civil war has won the top prize at Africa's most prominent film festival.

The movie Ezra was the big winner Saturday night in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, at the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou.

The biennial event is more popularly known as the Fespaco film festival.

Ezra tells the story of a former child soldier who struggles with the aftermath of his actions following the end of the civil war.

The film's director, Newton Aduaka, was awarded Fespaco's most illustrious honour: the golden Étalon de Yennenga (Yennenga Stallion) for the film that best shows Africa's realities.

Placing second was Cameroon director Jean Pierre Bekolo's Les Saignantes, while Chad director Mahamat Saleh Haroun came in third with Darrat, which was also recognized for its cinematography.

Other winners included:

  • Algerian director Djamila Sahraoui, awarded the Oumarou Ganda Prize (best first film) for Barakat. The film also won prizes for its screenplay and original score.
  • Haitian director Arnold Atonin, who received the Paul Robeson Prize (best film by a director of the African diaspora) for Le President a-t-il le sida?
  • Moroccan director Rhalib Jawad, whose film Ejido, La Loi du profit was named best documentary.
  • Ethiopian director Daniel Taye Workou, whose Menged was named best short film.

Held every other year and considered the African equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival, Fespaco unites the continent's most prominent filmmakers in Ouagadougou for a weekof movie screenings and debates about film.

Created in the late 1960s, Fespaco has grown in prominence over the years, as African cinema becomes better known around the world and its filmmakers try to battle the dominence of Hollywood blockbusters and Asian martial arts films at the continent's cinemas.