Entertainment of Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Source: Konrad Kodjo Djaisi

Ghana’s Film Industry Is Appalling!

Permit me to comment on Ghana’s burgeoning film industry aptly called Ghallywood. Like our Nigerian brethren who have developed their industry to formidable heights that has earned them the enviable position as the foremost African motion picture hub, Ghana’s industry has taken a similar development albeit the creativity and purpose.

First and foremost, I am not a recognised film critic but as a lover of the arts, I deem myself qualified to comment on our local industry which I believe is taking a turn for the worse.

Why do I say so? Apart from the lack of creativity, Ghana’s industry seems to lack direction and purpose. Are we telling a story, or are we just providing raw entertainment? On both fronts I believe we have failed miserably.

Ghana’s industry is just ‘aping’ the Nigerian film industry with the heavy slant towards the metaphysics. Gory images of witch doctors, ‘medicine men’ and juju portrays a very negative image of Africa depicting wrongly that that is all African cultures are based upon.

Imagine for a minute that an African film should inadvertently fall into the hands of a foreigner whose knowledge of the continent and its people is very scant, either by design or by accident,or perhaps by visiting an African friend who is mired in watching a typical Ghanaian film with a heavy slant on the super-natural? The first impression is a people who are backward, superstitious and unscientific.

Box office movies that come out of Hollywood have a basic story to tell that is captivating, well written, spectacularly produced and superbly edited. On the contrary, our industry seems to focus on themes that lack substance and are boring, to say the least.

Take for instance the recent craze with Ayga Koo films! He seems to produce a film every other week, lacking substance, trying to be hilarious but ending up offending the sensibilities of the viewer. At the rate he churns out films, he should be a wealthy person by now if only his films are produced properly with a stated purpose, either to entertain or convey a message but sadly, his films seem to be produced for the sake of it, or desperately trying to reap the returns that film products are expected to rake!

Ghana has a very reputable National Film and Television Institute that churns out graduates in droves on a yearly basis but sadly again, it does not seem to reflect in our film industry. Perhaps they are better at producing the technical crew like photograghers, lighting and sound crew but the actual ‘creators’, the producers, writers and directors need to up their game.

Are the Kwaw Ansahs, Kofi Bucknors,Anima Misas lacking in the new products? Frimpong-Manso and Juliet Asante seem to have a clout, but some of her Sparrow productions can be best described as naïve. Doesn’t Africa have a story to tell the world? What about glorifying our history with depictions of Hannibal, Queen Sheba or event modern heroes, like Steve Bantu Biko, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lummumba and other icons.

Or musical icons like Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba or Manu Dibango? Does it always take Broadway or Hollywood to unearth our fallen heroes? What are we teaching our youth? Some productions are too vulgar, raw and uninspiring.

Whatever happened to ECRAG, are they still in the business of grading and appraising the industry? Why all these falling standards? Frankly, whenever a Ghanaian movie is about to be screened I simply put the set off! Even the Nadia Buaris, Majid Michels and the Van Vickers still fall below standard because they often in act in roles that seems almost puerile.

I might be considered a harsh critic but one would agree with me that the Nigerian productions, even though they may be considered to be too rampant, have a few good quality films that can be considered ‘world-class’.

Let us screen our films properly, screen-write them professionally, and allow ample time to produce them. There is no race against time to be churning out sub-standard products. Let us feel the professional touch! I rest my case.