Ghana Cinematography

By | June 6, 2022

Formerly a Portuguese colony with the name of Costa do Ouro, then (1900) British protectorate with the name of Gold Coast, Ghana was the first colonial possession in sub-Saharan Africa to obtain independence in 1957, the year in which it took over his current name.

Film production began in 1945, when the British Colonial Office created the Gold Coast Film Unit (GCFU), with the aim of making educational shorts. In 1948 the GCFU opened a film school, and from 1950 it also financed several medium-length films halfway between documentary and fictional films, directed by the English Sean Graham with local actors and technicians, and influenced by the school of documentary filmmaker John Grierson, of which Graham he had been an assistant: among others, The boy Kumasenu (1951), a story, with the trend of a silent film, of a doctor who helps a boy to overcome the trauma of moving to the city and Mr Mensah builds a house (1955). After independence, the GCFU, with the name Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC), passed to the state, which was thus able to control the entire film production for many years. Initially British-directed films continued to be made, such as Terry Bishop’s The Tongo Hamlet (1965). In 1967 the first fully Ghanaian feature film was made, No tears for Ananse by Sam Aryeetey (director of GFIC), an epic about a character from the mythology of the Akan ethnic group. Egbert Adjesu and Bernard Odidja are responsible for the musical comedies I told you so (1970) and Doing their thing (1971) respectively, while King Ampaw, who worked between Ghana and Germany, made They call it love (1972).), Kukurantumi, also known as Road to Accra (1983) and Juju (1986, co-ordinated by Ingrid Metner). Also from the 1980s are two films by Kwaw P. Ansah, Love brewed in the African pot (1980), based on a popular legend, and Heritage Africa (1989), an analysis of Ghanaian historical events in the form of fiction. The subsequent Ama (1991) by Kwate Nee Owoo and Kwesi Owusu, and Back home again (1994) by Koffi Zokko Nartey and Kwame Bob Johnson, tackle the problems relating to emigration to Europe. They are sporadic and very different examples of a cinema that never became an adult, and which at the beginning of the Eighties had entered a serious technical and financial crisis. It was gradually replaced, starting from the end of that decade, by a vast production of feature films in video for almost the exclusive use and consumption of the local public: 1996, the year in which the GFIC was sold to private individuals, passing to a production only television, marked the conclusion of this process.

According to Homosociety, the video industry is now a real industry (about fifty films a year), entirely financed by private capital and managed by directors and technicians from GFIC; based on the principle of seriality, its main reference is the structure of the melodrama, to which minimal narrative variations are added. Within this particular situation, an original and positive element is constituted by the filmography of John Akomfrah, son of Ghana emigrants in Great Britain, who theorized the overcoming of the boundaries between fiction and documentary; in 1983 he founded the Black Audio Film Collective production house in London, with the aim of supporting the development of African cinema in Great Britain. His works include Handsworth songs (1986), Testament (1988, his first feature film), A touch of the tar brush (1991) and Last angel of history (1996), which tell some episodes of African history and the diaspora with the multimedia eye of the experimental filmmaker and the video artist. While continuing to be visually fascinating, Akomfrah’s work has at times become more predictable, as in the feature film Speak like a child (1998) or in the video Digitopia (2001). Works, always experimental in dealing with social phenomena, which have instead restored strength to his work are A death in the family – A very British murder (2000), Stalkers (2001) and Lawless – Prostitutes (2001). multimedia eye of the experimental filmmaker and video artist. While continuing to be visually fascinating, Akomfrah’s work has at times become more predictable, as in the feature film Speak like a child (1998) or in the video Digitopia (2001). Works, always experimental in dealing with social phenomena, which have instead restored strength to his work are A death in the family – A very British murder (2000), Stalkers (2001) and Lawless – Prostitutes (2001). multimedia eye of the experimental filmmaker and video artist. While continuing to be visually fascinating, Akomfrah’s work has at times become more predictable, as in the feature film Speak like a child (1998) or in the video Digitopia (2001). Works, always experimental in dealing with social phenomena, which have instead restored strength to his work are A death in the family – A very British murder (2000), Stalkers (2001) and Lawless – Prostitutes (2001).

Ghana Cinematography