Ghana Wins ZERO At the 2015 Africa Movie Academy Awards & Yet We Say Our Industry is Not Dying

4 min

Shirley Frimpong-Manso
Shirley Frimpong-Manso

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.

Leila Djansi
Leila Djansi

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.

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]


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  1. I think you are the reason leila djansi left ghana. You can’t insult her daily and expect her to stay. Also you cannot compare timbuctu to a Shirley frimpong film. She does not make those type of artsy movies and intelligent movies. She’s Tyler Perry. It’s only leila who does such international scale movies. If u want ghana to do well stop insulting the good ones. Stop the personal attacks.

    1. If Leila left Ghana because of GC or Chris’ insult then she is more stupid than I thought. Because a journalist criticise you you will leave your country and work to become a sell out. In America are there no brutal blogs even more than GC

      1. Until you have visited leila djansi set before you say she likes it easy. Ask the people who work with her. Poisoned bait at golden tulip hotel. She was rolling in the sand as she was directing. Look at you calling her stupid. And you expect her to stay and do what? She invests big money and she works in a very organized way. She is not ghana one will see hollywood and choose ghana with fake wigs

  2. For me until new actors and actresses come up the industry won’t go anywhere. Those in there now except Adjetey Anang all of them can’t act. From your beloved Joselyn Dumas to Jackie Appiah and John Dumelo and Yvonne Nelson they are all jokers. They can;’t act so where will this industry go with these people?

  3. For me I only watch Kumawood movies these days the rest is nonsense to mean. All they want to show is fake clothes, shoes and accent. Stolen storylines so how will they win any award?

      1. Ghanaian culture? I don’t know what you have been watching. If you really watch kumawood movies you should know that most of the movies is about witchcraft. Is that culture to you?

        1. You said it all… Kumawood is all about kyeiwaa and her evil moves. Ghana needs to banned producers for now and learn from nigeria.

  4. Talk is indeed cheap. You can argue and insult Leila from here till tomorrow but who cares? She is still the best among what you have. Your appreciation is not needed. She will keep doing her thing. Keep praising your chosen local champions. Boy bye!