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Paa Joe & the Lion film launches
Film

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.

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Hollywood in glorious Ghanavision
Cinemas

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

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Interview: Filmmaker Priscilla Anany
Film

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

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Ghana's football players on film
Film

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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Exclusive: Q&A with An African City creator Nicole Amarteifio
Film

Exclusive: Q&A with An African City creator Nicole Amarteifio

An African City was a huge TV sensation in Accra and among the Ghanaian diaspora. Time Out Accra caught up with the director Nicole Amarteifio for an exclusive online interview. Here’s what she had to say 1. When writing the early scripts who was your intended audience? Young Africans whom believe that poverty, famine and civil war are not the only stories to be told about the continent. I also wanted to encourage young Africans abroad to return home – that's the Marcus Garvey in me. 2. Were episode ideas taken from your own real life experiences? Yes, many scenes are a reflection of what has either happened to me or to women or returnees that I know. For me, as soon as the character Nana Yaa (played by actress MaameYaa Boafo) arrives at the airport and heads to immigration, that scene pretty much sums up my life and my journey of self-identity. When she proudly displays her Ghanaian passport to the immigration officer and he exclaims in disbelief, "you're Ghanaian? You don't look or sound Ghanaian?" Yep, that's my life. But, the thing is - what is a Ghanaian supposed to look or sound like? Why are so many people always so ready to define others? 3. How many hits did the most popular episode get? Our first episode has the most hits, but it is normal for the first episode of any web series to have the most hits. But I believe episode 7 on "condom etiquette" has a lot of hits comparable to other episodes. And, I completely understand that! This was an important episode

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The best films out now

The Revenant
Film

The Revenant

After the playful, urban and contemporary humour of the Oscar-winning ‘Birdman’, this bleak-faced 1820s-set frontier western sees Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu return to the darker worldview of his earlier films like ‘Babel’ and ‘21 Grams’. Based on a 2002 Michael Punke novel about real-life folk hero Hugh Glass, ‘The Revenant’ stars Leonardo DiCaprio (gruff, committed, unreadable) as a fur trapper and frontiersman left for dead by his colleagues in a wintry American landscape after he is viciously shredded by a grizzly bear. Glass survives, and he hauls his damaged body through snow, across rivers, up rocks and over plains, driven by revenge. In his sights is John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, savage with a dash of black humour), the man responsible for abandoning him to die and for forcing him to watch as his young son (of mixed-race parentage) is murdered in front of his eyes. So, no, it’s not a happy tale. But what survives from ‘Birdman’ is a compelling, forward-moving, simple approach to storytelling that grips us through stretches of silence and misery. The film's relentlessness itself becomes magnetic. There are times when 'The Revenant' feels like one long and unforgiving act of sadism, mostly directed at its lead character, but occasionally at us (a warning: the film is long, the dialogue is minimal and the violence is sharp). There are moments, too, that feel like parodies of awards-hungry acting, such as when we see DiCaprio chomping on raw animal organ

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Film

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Not only expert homage for the fans but a first-rate, energised piece of mega-Hollywood adventure, the hugely anticipated 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' stirs more to life than just The Force. The rollicking, space-opera spirit of George Lucas’s original trilogy (you can safely forget the second trio of cynical, tricked-up prequels) emanates from every frame of JJ Abrams's euphoric sequel. It’s also got an infusion of modern-day humour that sometimes steers the movie this close to self-parody – but never sarcastically, nor at the expense of a terrific time.The wheel need not be reinvented: virtually every plot point and action beat comes from 1977’s 'Star Wars' or 1980’s 'The Empire Strikes Back' (you even get a dormant lightsaber shivering in the snow), yet that’s perfectly fine when the vigour is this electric. Life is still a drag on arid desert planets like Jakku, where scrappy Rey (Daisy Ridley, a strong-jawed find) sells scavenged parts of old battle destroyers. Crash-landing onto her world is Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper shocked out of his violent path serving the evil First Order by an impulse to do the right thing. On the run, they hijack the decrepit Millennium Falcon – 'The garbage will do,' says Rey in the first of many exhilarating reveals – and take off toward a radicalising destiny in the Resistance.Abrams ('Star Trek', 'Super 8'), a master mimic unafraid to revive Lucas’s old-school wipes and frame-gobbling spaceships, brings a light touch to the perform

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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How to Be Single
Film

How to Be Single

As we’ve seen with #OscarsSoWhite, Hollywood is slow to change. Right now, romcoms are cold-turkeying without Jane Austen’s nineteenth-century happy-ever-after plotlines and wrapping their heads around the brave new world of Lena Dunham. As modern dating movies go, ‘How to Be Single’ gets a lot right. A tale of four women in New York, it’s adapted from a novel by ‘Sex and the City’ writer Liz Tuccillo. Dakota Johnson is the same shy, pretty, quirky girl she played in ‘Fifty Shades’ as graduate Alice, who splits with her college boyfriend to ‘spend time alone’. Inducting Alice into the ways of singledom is hilarious Rebel Wilson (‘Pitch Perfect’) as her crazy mate from work, who has all kinds of theories about sex including a ‘drink number’: the total number of drinks it takes before any male-female friendship pair end up having sex. A storyline with Alison Brie as marriage-obsessed Lucy, who’s signed up to ten dating websites, is a bit try-hard. Ironically, the best plot here is a gorgeous romance between Johnson’s hardworking sister (Leslie Mann) and a puppy-dog adorable, much younger receptionist (Jake Lacy) – flipping romcom stereotypes. Nothing here will blow you away, but baby steps…

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Deadpool
Film

Deadpool

‘You are relentlessly annoying,’ barks arms dealer Ed Skrein to Ryan Reynolds’s wisecracking, fetish-clad anti-superhero midway through this latest romp inspired by a Marvel comic. It’s an insult that applies just as easily to the film itself. Bloody, shallow and oh-so-smug, ‘Deadpool’ is so eager to offend that it’d almost be sweet if it wasn’t so, well, relentlessly annoying. We first meet Wade Wilson as an ex-military drifter, working as a thug-for-hire and about to fall madly in love with (you guessed it) a hooker-with-a-heart, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). When he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer, Wade is suckered in by a shady corporation run by the villainous Ajax (Skrein), who promises to save his life. The cure leaves Wade disfigured and scarred, but pumped with advanced healing powers, a hunger for revenge and a thing for bright red Lycra. Clearly inspired by the ooh-aren’t-we-naughty sweary superheroics of Matthew Vaughn (‘Kick-Ass’, ‘Kingsman’), ‘Deadpool’ is the kind of movie that thinks a shot of the hero being dildoed by his girlfriend on International Women’s Day is feminist enough to make up for the fact that she’s a foxy ex-prostitute and the script is peppered with rape jokes. It all looks cheap and grimy – whether this is a stylistic choice or a budgetary issue isn’t clear. Meanwhile the action sequences sacrifice tension and excitement in favour of hyperactive editing and splattering gore. The result is rarely boring, but it’s not half as smart, funny or sub

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Where to see films in Accra

Goethe-Institut
Things to do

Goethe-Institut

The Goethe-Institut is the German cultural centre and celebrates 50 years of being in Ghana. It has an impressive array of events and art exhibitions. Links between German art and that of Ghana are given precedence, whether through sound installations, mixed media pieces, performance art, photography or painting. It also occasionally lends its venue to the National Film and Television Institute next door. Be sure to check the website or pick up a programme of events when you are in town.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Alliance Française d’Accra
Things to do

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.

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British Council
Things to do

British Council

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).

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National Film and Television Institute
Film

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.

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