Movies of Friday, 11 March 2016

Source: Agbeko Mortty(Bex) - Associate Producer

Ghanaian ‘Children of the Mountain’ film going global

There seems to be a not so quiet revolution going on in the Ghanaian film industry. With the just gone awards season culminating in the Oscars, there was a lot of talk of diversity.

Ghana, of course, got swept up in it all with everything that Beasts of No Nation and our wonderful star Abraham Attah brought to the party. We look forward to 10,000 of us being slicker in our new foot ware too.

So as a new cycle begins are we going to wait years and years for our involvement in world cinema again? Maybe, just maybe not. Wednesday 2nd March, New York, the Tribeca Film Festival no less announced their 55 of their 101 selections from 6626 films submitted.

Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff founded the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002 with the mission of contributing to the revitalization of lower Manhattan in the wake of the September 11 disaster. Thirteen years later, the Festival has grown at a remarkable pace and brings together members of the international film community and movie-lovers of the US greatest and most diverse city to celebrate the power of film.

Now you tell me the chances of a debut feature film by a female Ghanaian director being one of the first 55. My maths is not that good but snuggled right there in the list under Viewpoints is a film called “Children of the Mountain” (USA/Ghana).

The writer, director, a producer is Priscilla Anany. Priscilla was born in Ghana and emigrated to the US in 2003. She studied Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina and a Masters in Communication at NYU. It is her first full feature film having done mainly short films in the past. There is one, in particular, called “Korji (Hospitals)” which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival 2013.

This is her first full-length feature film, and there are aspects of the film that make it somewhat of a rarity.

Firstly the subject matter; A woman who has a child with cerebral palsy and a cleft lip then believes she can get healing for this child. She wonders from disappointment to disappointment trying to leverage her meagre earnings as a yam trader in the market.

The film is set in Accra, Ghana and also a remote village in the Volta region of the country by Lake Volta. From the look of the trailer, this should make for some beautiful scenery.

Next the film is in Twi and Ewe with English subtitles. It stars a fresh Ghanaian/Nigerian actor called Rukiyat Masud who has done films like “Chelsea”, “Black Beauty” and “Sorrow of Madness”. She nowadays lives and does a lot of work in Nigeria and is not as well known in Ghana. However she is so ably supported by some industry heavyweights like Akofa Edjeani, Adjetey Anang, Grace Omaboe (Maame Dokunu), Dzifa Glikpoe, William Addo (Akpatseh) and Bex. One can just imagine the level of acting to expect from an ensemble like this.

So what does this represent to the Ghanaian film industry? Well as far, as can be seen, this film represents the first full-length feature film, produced in Ghana and by a Ghanaian to be officially selected for such a major internationally recognised film festival. Yes, we have and are producing lots of films year in year out, but whether they are submitted to such film festivals or not is anyone’s guess.

Films are submitted in their thousands to the major festivals. Sundance this year had over 12,793 films submitted of which they chose only 122 features and 72 shorts. We’ve seen the numbers above for Tribeca who knows what the numbers are for Cannes, however for Ghanaian films to make headway and bring our culture to the world it is important that they are put up against the international standards and exposed to a wider audience. We would then be able to build a viable industry in film, which will in turn, affect the way the country is viewed, bring in more tourism and truly change lives.

The success of Priscilla in being able to get her film into this prestigious festival needs to be proclaimed everywhere. We need all Ghanaians talking about it and supporting the cast to make it a huge affair in an international city like New York.

Ghana has a huge community in New York, and all Ghanaians there should make it a point to go and see this truly Ghanaian film. If we push this, it could get into even more and bigger festivals and who knows next year there could be a whole set of Ghanaians at the Academy Awards and not just to present an award! “Children Of The Mountain” premiere’s in Ghana on July 1, 2016, Republic Day Meanwhile for more information on the film, one can engage with the producers on social media; www.facebook.com/childrenofthemountainfilm.

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Look out for the hash tags #ThisAfricanFilm #cotmfilm #indiefilm and #tribeca2016