The organisers of the annual Ghana Movie Awards which aims to award excellence in Ghana’s struggling movie industry released their nomination list for the 2015 edition yesterday—opening a wormhole of social media criticisms, mostly from leading industry persons.
Even before the nominations, actress/producer-Yvonne Nelson had taken an uncomfortable position, saying, it would be wrong if the organisers nominate Netflix’s latest movie-Beasts of No Nation to compete with the local Ghanaian movies.
Yvonne Nelson grounded her objection in budget—arguing that, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ was shot on about 6 million dollars budget, an amount which if we sum up the budget of all the movies shot in Ghana this year would still be far greater than them.
For the first time in a long time, I somewhat agree with Yvonne Nelson’s objection of Beasts of No Nation’s inclusion in the 2015 Ghana Movie Awards, albeit I disapprove of this based on different set of arguments.
I’ve followed ‘Beasts of No Nation’ from the time it was shot in Ghana to today—my blog (GhanaCelebrities.Com) was the platform the ‘production’ house contacted to address a disagreement certain key industry players had with them when they visited Ghana for the shoot.
And I’ve reviewed the movie; so I am well aware of its excellence and weakness—and I’ve taken part in the various conversations surrounding the supposition that the movie perpetuates Hollywood’s unfair perception of Africa as a jungle full of ‘sadistic killers’.
There’s no squabble about the fact that ‘Beasts of No Nation’ is not a Ghanaian movie—but it has strong ties with Ghana. The confusion surrounding ‘Beasts of No Nation’ goes beyond this argument: its Oscars’ fate is shaky based on the fact that the movie broke Oscar’s 90 days exclusivity release rule when it was released on Netflix.
But this is a conversation for a different time. All I am trying to say at this stage is that, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ cuts across industries and it adopted mixed release strategies, making it difficult to place it in a single well defined box. There is also the issue of where the movie belongs; Hollywood, Independent or not.
Now that I have at least pointed you to the fact that ‘Beasts of No Nation’ is causing a global definition chaos, let’s look at why I say its nomination and dominance in the 2015 Ghana Movie Awards is technically right but tactically unfair.
I’ve had long discussions in the past and even today with the Founder/CEO of Ghana Movie Awards-Fred Nuamah in relation to the non-clarity of what movies qualify for nominations.
But then again, even the Oscars that has clarity and also has a well established convention sometimes finds itself in such troubles due to the changing way in which movies are being produced, distributed or released.
To the best of my knowledge and from what Fred Nuamah has told me, for a movie to qualify for nominations in Ghana Movie Awards, it must not necessary be a full Ghanaian movie or feature large number of Ghanaian actors—provided the producers or directors are Ghanaians.
This is extremely ambiguous because apart from Idris Elba, the other two producers of Beasts of No Nation are said to be Ghanaians. Considering Idris Elba as a Ghanaian by descent for the purpose of Ghana Movie Awards is not technically incorrect but obviously, it’s far- fetched. So Ghana Movie Awards says, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ has 3 Ghanaian producers and it was filmed in Ghana.
Also, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ featured several Ghanaian actors and was fully shot in Ghana—with post production and funding completely coming from somewhere else. Denying these Ghanaian actors their deserving nominations because the funding of the movie came from somewhere or the post production took place in a different country seems a little cruel.
So based on Ghana Movie Awards’ woolly definition of what movie can be nominated and what cannot, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ can be said to be technically well placed to be nominated. It’s this same window that has given Leila Djansi several nominations and wins in the past, mostly unchallenged by those throwing stones at ‘Beasts of No Nation.’
However, it’s tactically unfair and it defeats the core reasons why Ghana Movie Awards was established to have ‘Beasts of No Nation’ competing with these local Ghanaian Movies—and I am not saying so mainly because of the production budget, but the extensive professionalism this production enjoyed as a result of where it is coming from places it out of the league.
It’s like enrolling Lionel Messi into Adisadel College alongside a bunch of his Barcelona teammates and then pushing them on the field to play in the annual inter-schools football competition. Technically they will be students of Adisadel College but the advantage they will bring undermines the fairness of the competition as well as the motive.
Straight up, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ should reasonably win all the 15 categories it has been nominated for—and this is because, all the movies in those categories did not have the same production advantage and the varying standard is therefore extremely huge for them to compete.
It will be shocking and contemptuous if any of the movies pushes ‘Beasts of No Nation’ off the cliff.
Ghana Movie Awards was established to award excellence in Ghana’s movie industry and annually encourage our local industry players—it should remain so.
A simple solution to this ostensibly huge problem is for a special category to be created in the future for those movies like ‘Beasts of No Nation’ which cut across borders and industries. That way, the local film-makers and actors who struggle throughout the year will still be appreciated without a shark simply coming in to gulp down their efforts, no matter how minimal these efforts are.
Sizes of production budget should solely not be the fountainhead of the argument because a Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s movie will have a totally different budget from many of the one man production houses.
There are countless global award schemes out there where ‘Beasts of No Nation’ will have the opportunity to compete with movies of similar strength and I believe the film-makers will appreciate such fair play to their participation in Ghana Movie Awards, surrounding by a ‘bunch of amateurs.’
They are not desperate for awards or local recognition and as such they shouldn’t have even bothered with Ghana Movie Awards.