PHOTOS + My Thoughts on ‘Afua’s Diary’: A Good Attempt at Telling a Relevant Story But…

8 min


Afua's Diary London Premiere
Afua’s Diary London Premiere

I sat among a crowd, mostly of African origin at the Odeon Cinema at Greenwich in London last night to watch for the first time “Afua’s Diary” and despite having read the synopsis several times which sort of gives a sharp idea of the storyline—I was particularly interested in how the film-makers were going to tackle the ‘African immigrant’ story.

Most African film-makers with strong Diaspora ties seem to have an entrenched interest in showcasing the struggles, problems and the uncertainties that hover above the heads of African migrants who find themselves in Europe and United States; mostly those without the right to stay—and it was out of this same interest came the film “Anchor Baby”.

Having watched several “African Illegal Immigrant” themed movies, I was looking forward to what Bibi Owusu Shadbolt (the scriptwriter) could make out of the conventional theme—perhaps, well over exploited by Diaspora based African film-makers.

Afua's Diary London Premiere
Afua’s Diary London Premiere

Even though the elements, details and flow of the storyline failed to depart from ‘the on the street conversation’ about this issue, the film-makers perfectly laced the storyline with subtle comedy, championed by Kwaku Sintim Minsa (KSM) all the way from Ghana—serving as the strongest element of the film, depicting a departure from the usual .

Of course anyone who has lived abroad could predict the conversation, the happenings and could break the not so sturdy suspense with ease, but there was no way that person could predict the comedy—or resist its energy to induce laugher.

The Storyline

For some people, every story has been told but to me, it’s not just about the story—it’s the little roses you adorn the story with and for this, ‘Afua’s Diary’ had that layer of comedy to add a fresh touch to a story which has been told many times but with different lenses.

Considering the audience, the storyline had a high relevance score; tackling an issue many of the people who were seated in the cinema may have faced—and if not, friends or family may have had to deal with some parts of the story.

Afua's Diary London Premiere
Afua’s Diary London Premiere

The Acting

Over the last few years, we’ve seen incredible improvement in the acting of our African actors and to a glorifying extent; the poor dialogue syndrome has been eroded, paving way for something more natural when it comes to delivery. However, the acting in ‘Afua’s Diary’ continuously reminded you that, this is a scripted dialogue.

The strength of the acting cannot compete with any of the great productions emerging out of today’s African movie market; and I would blame it on ‘perhaps’ experience. The flow of the conversations stood on a scripted ground—and except KSM who was convincing in his delivery, the others including the lead-Cleopatra Wood were for the entire movie less convincing, in terms of what they said and what they did.

Since this seems to be the first major movie role for Cleopatra Wood and the several others in the movie, I wouldn’t want to say they are not good actors—but experience makes one convincing even if the person is reading from a script.

The Production Quality

Though the film-makers failed to mention how much was spent on the entire movie or to give a reasonable estimate, I do not think it would amount to contempt to suggest that, ‘Afua’s Diary’ is a low budget film—and in fact, those behind it did impressively well if the budget was as low as I think.

With hands held to the back due to budget constraints and fresh university graduates like-Ben Owusu taking central role in the making of the film, the quality was inspiring—obviously, what was achieved in terms of quality fits the budget and the level of experience.

The picture quality was clear and met the ever improving cinematic standard but not the same can be said about the sound.

Afua's Diary London Premiere
Afua’s Diary London Premiere

Attendance

Though the huge cinema was not packed, the number of people who came out in the cold to see the movie was encouraging. More so, the fact that there was no trending actor/actress with a large following in the movie and yet, the movie managed to pull in a good number of people to its London premiere shows that, Africans in London are ready to support their own—especially when their story is being told.

Rating

Considering the relevance of the storyline, the production’s team experience, the comedy element against the poor acting, bad sound quality and the general outcome, giving the movie 5/10 should be uncontested.

The scriptwriter has a style and with a few more attempts, she should definitely find her ground and with an experienced director or team, her story would be well interpreted to match some of the much talked about African productions we’ve recently experienced.

line

In Afua’s Diary, “lan Freeman is an Italian businessman who has suffered a bitter divorce. His ex was a South African woman who left him after she was given the right to stay in the UK. This divorce is affecting every facet of his life till he meets Afua forson Brown.

Afua Forson Brown is a stunning African girl whose life is a catalogue of problems. She has a lazy, arrogant and aggressive boyfriend who depends on her for everything and an alcoholic father in Ghana who comes up with outrageously childish reasons to extort money from her.

In addition to this, her visa is near expiration. As Afua and Alan meet and fall in love, Afua’s problems become a big threat to their relationship.”

Check out the trailer & photos below…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HV0Fd8DzTI
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Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, Founding Editor
Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri is the Founding Editor of GhanaCelebrities.Com , a Film Critic and a Human Rights Advocate; he holds 2 masters degrees in Law; International Human Rights Law (LL.M) and Legal Practice Course (LL.M) from University of Leicester and Nottingham Law School--and also a degree in Law (LL.B) from University of East London. He's a Professional Truth Sayer and he is the author of the popular eBook “Success is a Right, Not A Privilege.” He currently works at Adukus Solicitors in London--where he uses his legal brains to kick real ass, for the good of clients and humanity. Contact: [email protected]

10 Comments

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  1. I am surprised at tis review. I was there on the night and I thought the movie was fantastic. My wife is African and I, like many, think African movies are badly produced. Apart from a few problems with sound, the movie was very mainstream and cannot be compared with any African movie out there.

  2. I personally disliked the film having watched it that night. I think the quality of the film was very cheap at points of when the audio will go from high to low at times. The storyline was amazing as it touched on real life issues but shown through the film made it unrealistic as afua entered the UK soo easily after being deported.. There wasent a flow through the scenes it seemed very jumpy

    1. I worked on this production and yep we will definitely sort out the sound problems but in terms of flow, I think we nailed it. I think the film is more for mainstream audience as it’s very different from African film most of which are too dramatic and has unnecessary suspense. This film was a simple, light and beautiful story brilliantly told.

  3. The very name ‘Afua’s Diary” was a clue about the main theme of the story, it wasn’t attempting to right wrongs or lay blame but simply to reflect the emotional side of love and attraction and the effect of lifes’ real complications and disappointments. Afua’s Diary was about love and the key to the outcome was all about the diary. Hardly an ‘African immigrant’ story as you expected. As you say the theme has been repeated film after film. Bib’s masterpiece comes from careful creative writing based on a true story. Humour was very much part of the intention. As you say “a departure from the usual”.

    Everyone involved in the production became part of Afua’s Community, giving up time to move the production forward. The brave choice of selecting a college leaver as the film maker director showed immense strength of character from Bibi, right from the beginning. Perhaps the budget was a few pounds short of Ben Hur but the emotion and humour were real and deep.

    Several of the actors run shows on radio, TV and live in front of audiences so they are frequently in unscripted positions, that is why they were chosen.

    It was smiles all round from wherever I found myself on the night, but the true version of the original real life story was mine, so as I know from real life in this situation, laughing is what keeps us all going and not giving in to the misery and complications of immigration, horribly painful though it might be.

    All in all it was among the best African films I’ve seen and aimed at a much wider audience too.

    1. Talent Scout i Think you need to respect what the production team have manage to put your story that was written in Amateur and was put together by that production team also i know the director he is amazing guy and he is a university graduate HAVE A RESPECT for those who’s put your miserable life to a visual.and i heard that all the production team was a university graduate. Talent Scout, if you don’t have respect woman will treat u bad all the time…..

      1. I think comments should be based on professional observations rather than attempts at personal attacks, clearly you do not see the reason why. Talent Scout’s comments are clearly aimed at redressing the personal interpretation and observations of Chris-Vincent. Talent Scout doesn’t associate the word ‘amateur’ to anyone, far from it, I understood it was ‘Afua’s Community’ that completed this masterpiece together against all odds. I thought the director was an integral part of that community who had previous achievements to his name. Lastly respect, as you say, is a two way thing, maybe you know more about that too than I.

  4. From script to reality these College Leavers sorry! (University Graduates) did an amazing job, putting this all together. Technical the film was sound, from Lighting to sound ,camera , its shame the script was a bit weak in places. The character that help the film along was KSM who broke up the static work flow of the film introducing some punch one liners to pull the film together. It is evident, that this is not a Nollywood only market but can cross over to the British – American market. with good marketing strategy and a tidy up to the film it should be a profitable film

    KSM who was convincing in his delivery
    KSM who was convincing in his delivery
    all the best for the future .

    1. I don’t think KSM was the strongest actor. Afua’s ex was amazing. And yep, there were technical issues with the movie but as far as romantic comedy-dramas go, this was brilliantly written. No extreme suspense. And I like the simplicity of the narration and comedy injection. You are right, with some polishing up, it can cross over to other markets.