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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…