It wouldn’t be intellectually stable to use Ghana’s discouraging nominations and its subsequent ZERO winning at this year’s Africa Movie Academy Awards as the absolute measure of the state of Ghana’s Movie Industry—but this substantially adds to the already known factors to confirm that, Ghana’s once booming and competitive movie industry is at the edge of collapsing.
In the last few years, I’ve reviewed some of the top-marked Ghanaian and Nigerian movies and it’s been a fair competition in terms of production quality and the underlying excellence when it comes to story telling. A Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s film would easily compete with any of Kunle Afolayan’s excellent work and perhaps, even push that of Kunle’s off the table of competition.
Even Timbuktu, the 2014 French-Mauritanian drama film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako which made headlines at the 67th Cannes Film Festival—and took home the 2015 AMAA’s Best Director, Best Film and Achievement in Editing bears no overpowering superiority in areas of production when perched with A Leila Djansi movie or that of Shirley Frimpong-Manso.
But a dying Movie Industry cannot be sustained with world class productions, rather, world class patronizing and that’s exactly the enviable mercies film-makers like Kunle Afolayan and Abderrahmane Sissako enjoy over Ghana’s ‘squeezed’ greatest.
Ghana’s Movie Industry has no leverage; the Government has no interest and the small population takes no patriotic interest in made by Ghanaian movies. In fact, they treat Ghanaian movies with the same contempt they dish out to foreign movies—pirating and openly sharing these movies as though they are free national assets.
Without the needed capital to keep up with the telling of thrilling stories by the few outstanding Ghanaian film-makers, the industry has once again fallen on the weak pillars of Kumawood, a subset of Ghana’s Movie Industry which prides itself with mediocre productions. Kumawood represents frequently produced low-budget movies from Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital.
Movies from Kumawood have less capital backing and therefore the smallest paid patronization will generate enough profit to see the next thing being made. This substandard but widely patronized caricature takes no interest in cross border competitions; a Kumawood movie is often made to make Ghanaians laugh and that’s where the lifespan ends.
Interestingly, the two heavyweight Ghanaian film-makers who made border-cutting films and succeeded in scoring cheering nominations and sometimes unexpected WINS at the annual Africa Movie Academy Awards are still making movies but the dying industry has somewhat shoved them to unpleasant corners.
Leila Djansi has totally uprooted herself out of the misery that comes with film-making in Ghana and has found unwavering grounds in United States, making movies which wouldn’t necessarily score her sweeping nominations or attention as she used to achieve at the Africa Movie Academy Awards but at least, her investment wouldn’t become a debt over night.
Shirley Frimpong Manso has not physically relocated but her passion and focus seem to have already taken the lead. Her last productions have maintained their technical excellence but the inevitable change in direction caused by the market forces was obvious. Today, her movie count per year has fallen. She has developed a quick interest in TV series over her own strength, because, the former seems to keep her business running…
Unfortunately, the actual stars of Ghana’s dying Movie Industry have no awareness of the impending doom or perhaps, they just can’t bring themselves to take the bitter pill. Earlier this month, I got into an hour phone conversation with actor-John Dumelo who sincerely failed to understand my position that Ghana’s Movie Industry is once again riding on wounded legs. To him, the industry is growing with quality as a benchmark.
The Africa Movie Academy Awards has over the years grown to become less attractive to many film-makers—and the public interest from Ghana has radically dwindled. However, Ghana’s minimal participation and unnoticeable impact sprout out of the fact that, we do not have what it takes to lead the headlines anymore, caused by our dying industry.
The days of Shirley Frimpong Manso’s POTOMANTO scoring 9 nominations at AMAA and Leila Djansi leading the post AMAA headlines is evidently over—unless, we are able to mysteriously revive the dying Ghana Movie Industry.
Correction: This article via note stated that Ama Ampofo won Best Supporting Actress at the 2015 AMAA for her performance in Shirley-Frimpong Manso’s Devil in the Detail—the only win for Ghana. This was based on a tweet from AMAA’s official twitter account.
It has been cited as a mistake by AMAA; the winner for the 2015 AMAA’s Best Supporting Actress is Hilda Dokubo for her performance in Stigma.