Weighing In On Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s ‘GREY DAWN’ | When Politics, Family, Genuine & Illicit Affairs Take Center Stage…

9 min

Grey Dawn
Watching Grey Dawn

Multiple award-winning film-maker Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s latest movie-Grey Dawn which will start showing in Accra from Friday, 13th February, 2015 takes a big shot at interesting but contrasting human endeavours; politics, family, genuine relationships and illicit affair.

It may seem a little too much to have these strong though conflicting desires come to play in a single movie—however, with her excellent story telling prowess, Shirley Frimpong-Manso succeeds in finding a competing but salient grounds for all these things which have become part and parcel of our human existence.

The movie defines the grounds and boundaries for these human desires but at the end of it all, it becomes obvious which amongst the competing interests takes that single important stage in the lives of the main characters.

Grey Dawn
Grey Dawn

Anyone who has seen many of Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s movies wouldn’t struggle to extract from her films that she is more of an idealists (sociological sense)—and her ‘utopian’ society was once again vivid on screen. By ‘utopian’ society, I mean an African society where a politician is indeed honourable with some sort of conscience in place.

The Storyline…

In ‘Grey Dawn’, a Government Minister (Harold Davis) played by Bimbo Manuel is fixed between using his position to help his father-in-law stay out  of jail for tax evasion or allow the law to take its course with him.

Harold Davis’ decision pulls in his wife’s anger (Jessica Davis played by Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi), worsened by the fact that the stress of the case eventually led to Jessica’s father untimely death.

The anger of Jessica alone would have been bearable for Harold Davis but to watch on helplessly as he begins to loose his wife to the company of a young handsome man—who offers Jessica that perfect wormhole from her darkness into a world of art and music begins to challenge his position as a man, a father and a husband.

Grey Dawn
Grey Dawn

This is where it gets pretty interesting…

As Jessica is taken into a different world of artistry beauty and temporal peace merged with fun; the same wormhole began to pull her returnee daughter into its deep space—this time, made easy by the fact that Jessica’s daughter (Flora Mends played by Sika Osei) had the same obsessions which dwell in the works of this strange man (Jack played by Marlon Mave) whose works and ‘oomph’ had already consumed Jessica.

I wouldn’t want to box this into the concept of utopianism but it’s difficult to find a society where a woman who is married to a prominent Minister of State would run after a somewhat ‘broke’ painter who does not measure on the social ladder…

Grey Dawn (2)
Scene from Grey Dawn


Of course the above is capable of happening, especially when the woman has been hurt and care no more about those things we regarded as valuable or socially relevant—in such cases, she yearns for the simplest of things which she would normally pay no attention to. And this is exactly the position we find Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi’s character…

Jack and Jessica-Grey Dawn
Jack and Jessica-Grey Dawn

The New ‘Known’ Faces…

It’s particularly interesting to see a Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s movie with complete new faces—breaking away from the usual Sparrow Productions set of actors and the general Ghana movie industry recycling of certain actors’ syndrome.

Although these actors are not new to the Nigerian and Ghanaian movie industry, they do not have waiting seats at Sparrow Productions—and in the bigger industries, they have not been ‘over used’.

The new faces come with a refreshing feel; making you want to pay special attention to their acting and the story. Surely, when it comes to marketing, it may be a little difficult for Sparrow Productions because they have a bunch of new ‘known’ faces on the screen—but the quality of their delivery is effectively the same if not better than the ‘majorly’ used faces…

And as such, they are worth the risk—and worth watching…

Jessica-Grey Dawn
Jessica-Grey Dawn


Nigeria’s Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi and Bimbo Manuel are good actors and even though I believe Bimbo Manuel placed well and interpreted his role with a world class touch, I was not so much down with Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi’s delivery. Her gestures and on-screen bodily movements were great but I think her lines (anytime she was in a dialogue) were not really convincing. To me, she struggled to nail it…

The person I would want to see take up the challenge and become a screen regular is Marlon Mave—he easily acted his way throughout the entire movie. Perhaps, he was not acting—he was just being himself and that is why he was so convincing and a delight to watch.

I am not a fan of Sika Osei but considering the class of actresses we have in Ghana, she surely can beat most of those we call ‘best/favourite’ actresses—and playing a teenager fitted her person, probably, the natural hair did the magic.

You know me and my natural hair addiction…

Flora Mends and Jack in Grey Dawn
Flora Mends and Jack in Grey Dawn

Production Quality

Shirley Frimpong-Manso and her Sparrow Productions managed to set forth a ‘great production quality’ space for themselves with their first movie-‘Life And Living It’ on a continent where many film-makers pay little to no attention to how their productions turn out on our screens.

And since their first production; they’ve gradually increased their production excellence—giving African movie lovers nothing to complain about when it comes to picture and sound quality.

They’ve also mastered the art of selecting beautiful African songs which sit well with their movies—and in ‘Grey Dawn’, you get a lot of such perfection (timing and choice of songs). Great camera angles too…

Costume & Location: Leaving Behind an Important Sparrow Tradition?

Sparrow Productions has somewhat become synonymous to beautiful locations, well tailored or selected costumes and artistic display—but less of such things were seen in ‘Grey Dawn’ except the artistic display…

Grey Dawn’ has a painter and his work playing a key role and as such, there were display of some fine art works but less attention seems to have been paid to the vibrant Sparrow Productions’ costume and carefully highlighted locations we’ve become used to.

With the above missing in ‘Grey Dawn’, you would be perfectly right to say the movie is not a quintessential Sparrow Productions’ film…

To me, the tradition must live on but to others, the break away from what has become part of Sparrow Productions’ strength does not necessary take anything away from the movie—it just shows that they’ve highlighted these stuffs enough and they can tell a brilliant story without relying on their excellence in that area all the time.

Jack and Flora Mends
Jack and Flora Mends

The ‘Moral Maze’: Must A Man Stand With His Family Or His Conscience?

Contrary to what the trailer may cast into your mind, ‘Grey Dawn’ is not necessary a political movie—it’s that movie which revolves around conflicting human values; creating a deep ‘moral maze’.

A man must love and protect his family, stand by his family through difficult times but does this mean the man must let go his conscience and everything he deems as virtuous or honourable when the protection of his family’s interest conflicts with his standing conscience?

It’s not just the above conundrum the movie plugs you into, it creates series of puzzling paths and hedges for the characters and the viewer—and the importance of family is well placed in all the puzzles. Perhaps, it shows the extent to which the film-maker values family and everything it stands for.

The movie boldly indicates that, at times one must do it all to safeguard his family—irrespective of the hovering consequence.

Jessica Davis and Harold Davis in Grey Dawn
Jessica Davis and Harold Davis in Grey Dawn

The Ending…

It has a happy ending; something most African Movie lovers may appreciate but I do not like how it ended for that innocent painter/artist—whose role was not really tainted by any deep mischief. He didn’t deserve what happened but who said life is fair? When you play a dirty game, be prepared to knock someone out or be knocked out…

It’s like the bad guys succeeded in getting rid of that one good person who obviously by no choice of his found himself at the wrong place or caged in an already exploding family.

But considering the key message the movie wanted to highlight; this ending was inevitable. And did all the 3 have to meet like that? That was a little too much of a ‘classic’ African movie situation for me—caught in the act sort of thing, followed by confessions…

A Happy Ending in Grey Dawn
Grey Dawn

The movie will be showing at the SilverBird Cinemas (Accra Mall & Weija) from 13th February, 2015—and on SparrowStation.Com from 20th February, 2015 and it’s definitely a must watch.

If not for any of the aforementioned reasons, the movie pushes your mind to reconsider the real importance of certain desires or decisions—and it would definitely leave you with the question; to what extent should one be ready to go when it comes to what he stands for and what should one even stand for at all?

Family, Politics, Genuine and Illicit affairs—which deserves the real win?

‘Grey Dawn’ is directed by Shirley Frimpong-Manso—and produced by Ken Attoh & Shirley Frimpong-Manso. It features Bimbo Manuel, Sika Osei, Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi, Marlon Mave and others. Tickets for Friday’s showing in Accra can be purchased from Koala, Airport Shell and SilverBird Cinemas

Watch the Trailer Below…


Grey Dawn
Grey Dawn

Showing Info

Date: From 13th February, 2015

Venue: SilverBird Cinamas in Accra Mall & Weija

Tickets Outlet: Tickets can be purchased from Koala, Airport Shell and SilverBird Cinemas.

Online: Showing at SparrowStation.Com from 20th February, 2015.

Grey Dawn (8)
Scene from Grey Dawn


Grey Dawn (3)
Scene from Grey Dawn


Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, Founding Editor
Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri is the Founding Editor of GhanaCelebrities.Com and AfricaCelebrities.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]