Paa Joe & the Lion film launches
These days, the world knows where to come for a designer death-casket. Fantasy coffins have become one of Ghana’s most talked-about exports, featuring in international exhibitions, being written about in glossy magazines and being cooed over by the culturally curious. But the riotously colourful creations, which can take the form of anything from Nike trainers to mobile phones, represent far more than just whimsical woodwork, with each piece taking up to six weeks to make and requiring expert craftsmanship. Overseas interest in the coffins has resulted in increased exposure for Accra’s leading coffin sculptors, in particular 66-year-old Paa Joe, who together with son Jacob was invited over to the UK in mid-2013 to take up a month-long artists’ residency at a stately home open to the public in Nottinghamshire. Working together, father and son used the time to carve and construct a full-size example of their trademark lion coffin. But there was more to the project than simple creativity. The man behind their trip to England was British filmmaker Benjamin Midgley, who became aware that Paa Joe had been forced out of his Accra workshop to a roadside shack 90 minutes out of the city, due to a lack of funds. “To me he seemed like a fallen giant,” Benjamin tells Time Out. “Here was this pioneer, someone who had been making fantasy coffins for 50 years, who had been visited by US presidents, but who had fallen on hard times. He gets minimal passing trade in his current location.
Champagne & Popcorn Night
Saturday and Sunday nights at the Urban Grill Terrace is the place to be to see old classics.
Hollywood in glorious Ghanavision
Semi-naked women are essential, preferably holding a knife dripping with blood. As some kind of ninja, evil zombie and a decapitated head are preferable. A humanoid tortoise vomiting money is optional, although certainly desierable. With Ghanaian movie posters, gore, blood, nudity, violence and general nastiness are the currency of commerce. In the 1980s, travelling cinema was the way that most Ghanaian’s consumed movies – and still is in some areas. Touring rural Ghana with a TV, VHS tape and player, the moving cinema would roll up in town, set up a tent and litter the area with movie posters – fabulous, fantastical movie posters to advertise the show. Whether it was the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Hong Kong action flick or the latest from an African filmmaker, the artist would hand paint a poster on flour sacks, with an enticing image, often without having seen the film at all. It was the portrayals of monsters, superheroes, half naked women that attracted German gallery and art book publishers, Bongoût, to release two books, Ghana Movie Posters, and this year, Ghanavision, a second volume which collates dozens of unique hand-painted movie posters from their private collection. Cristina Ayala of Bongoût told Time Out , ‘The art works are particularly charming. They can be quite naive but they possess such a bewitching quality. ‘We learned it is not unusual that the self-taught artists often only saw a few photo stills. These wild translations of film to canvas, with s
Interview: Filmmaker Priscilla Anany
The film deals with a heartbreaking subject matter. What was it that brought you to this subject? A very good friend of mine has a child who has Down Syndrome and she wrote a short prose that expressed her personal rationale to why she had such a child. I read the prose and I was inspired to tell a bigger story about women who have kids with special-needs. My goal was to let mothers all over the world know that it wasn’t their fault their babies were sometimes born with health issues or with deformities. There’s no such thing as a perfect child or human, all children are a great gift, and they should be loved and accepted no matter how they come. I especially wanted to reach mothers in developing worlds who face far more challenges amidst blame and criticism for having “imperfect” babies and then not having adequate health care that caters to children with special needs. How did you go about casting the people in the film – what were you looking for in the protagonists? Some are well-known actors, but others perhaps not? What about Jessica? We held a casting session and we had a lot of well-known Ghanaian actresses, but none seemed to be the perfect fit for the protagonist especially. I was quite worried. I needed a beautiful, simple and natural looking woman and of course a very good performer who could carry the weight of the character’s journey. When I saw a photo of Rukiyat Masud, I knew right away she was the one. She wasn’t famous and nobody knew her, but her audit
Ghana's football players on film
When your debut film gets nominated for three awards at the Palermo Film Festival, you can be more than a little proud. When you end up leaving the ceremony having been presented with two of them, however - one for best screenplay, the other for best foreign film - it's a sign you've created something a bit special. For director Baff Akoto, London-born but Ghanaian by origin, the recognition was reward for a project that began in 2007 and focuses squarely on an obsession both personal and universal: football. The resulting film, Football Fables - which has since made it into three more major festivals around the world - gives fresh perspective on the unquenchable enthusiasm for the sport in Ghana. By tracking the fortunes of upcoming local players, the documentary sets out to examine what it takes for youngsters to achieve the transition from the dusty pitches of West Africa to the fat salaries and gleaming stadia of Europe. Understandably, with the money and machinations involved in modern-day football, it's not an easy leap to make. For every Michael Essien, there are untold hundreds of talented youngsters destined, through bad odds, bad handling and plain bad luck, never to make the grade. "The film was very much a passion project," says Akoto, who explains how time in Accra as a young man changed his notion on what it meant to encounter a genuine fervour for football. "I grew up in West London until I was 14 then went to finish secondary school in Ghana. Just before I a
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Where to see films in Accra
Alliance Française d’Accra
The Accra-based arm of the French cultural centre offers a large range of artistic activities every week. It particularly excels in live music events, but there are also regular art displays and talks from international artists. The obvious focus is on French and Ghanaian artists (often working together), which forms an artistic bridge between both cultures in terms of language, education and artistic programming. Recent shows have included the film screening and photography exhibition from Sublime World Productions’ project Sounds from Ghana, and artistic exhibition Les Jardins de la Francophonie featuring five francophone West African artists: Samuel Tete-kathan, Kassy, Edem Gota, Yao Sewonou and Salifou Oura. There is always something interesting on; be sure to look at the website before any visit to Accra.
This British cultural centre is not as proactive as the Goethe-Institut or Alliance Française d’Accra in exhibiting arts, but it has some cultural events. Check the website for details. There is also an office in Kumasi (Bank Road, 051 37197).
National Film and Television Institute
The National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) was set up in 1978 by the government as a Higher Education Institute and runs courses in film and television production. It also has workshops for the general public on composition, writing, art direction, cinematography and sound for the general public. Screenings mostly take place with seasonal festivals and visiting filmmakers. NAFTI hosts its own biennial film and television festival called ANIWA in which documentary features and animation films are shown.