IFC SUSTAINABILITY EXCHANGE
The 2017 IFC Sustainability Exchange was organized in Colombia where I got to speak at the opening about the importance of storytelling. The event is organized by the International Finance Corporation which is a subsidiary of the World Bank. In attendance were CEOs from the Mining, Infrastructure and Natural Resources Industry. It definitely was an eye opening experience for me because I got to speak to a totally different audience than I am used to. Here in this short video, I speak about the importance of Africans telling their own stories.
FILMING BUTTERING UP
We arrived in Tamale at about 8 am on a cold Harmattan Thursday morning. We were met by Amina Alhasssan, our coordinator for the shoot. We then made a 4 hour trip to Wa, the capital of the Upper West Region which was two hours of dusty road and the other two hours on asphalt. We then continued another hour to Eremon, a small village deep inside Lawra, the district capital.
We were astonished when we got there and were met by a group of women who sang and danced to welcome us.
The best part of the trip was meeting Rose Zang, our main character who lost her husband more than 10 years ago. She had there children and made shea butter for sale. A former Pito brewer, she felt that making Shea butter was a much better option in order to look after her children. In so doing, she had received aid from IFAD through the Northern Rural Growth Programme and managed to send her children to school and her oldest son was in the University.
Our other character Hamida Iddrisu, was another very wonderful woman who was a sixth form leaver with seven sons. She had managed to set up a number of agro chemical shops also with aid from IFAD through the Northern Rural Growth Program. She talked about how that had affected her self esteem and how she was no longer afraid or intimidated by her male counterparts.
Meeting with these women whom despite not having any formal education and making something of themselves to better their lives was an absolutely rewarding experience to film.
COOPERATIVE SAVING AND LOANS
Co-producing this documentary with Ryan Hill was probably one of the most stressful productions I have done. It was however rewarding getting to know these women and the efforts they were making to better their lives. We filmed over a period of 4 days and it was personally enriching for me getting to know these women.
THE BIZ COUCH
When Jonathan from Hidden Picture Productions sought our assistance in producing the Biz couch, we were more than thrilled. The Biz Couch is a short video that opened discussions and conversations about technology and other matters on technology that affected daily life.
As part of our assignment, we were to find a white couch with red cushions. After a number of days looking for a white couch and not getting any we decided to find a carpenter who could make one for us. After about three days, we picked up our very white couch to start filming. This episode focused on the Hope City project which is a technology park to be built at Prampram in, Greater Accra Region,of Ghana. It is being undertaken by Rlg Communications. HOPE City is an acronym for Home, Office, People and Environment or also known as the Silicon Valley of Africa.
We had the opprortunity of speaking with students from the University of Ghana and Labone SDA School to sample their views on the Hopecity Project. We also had the opportunity of interviewing Roland Agambire, the Chairman of the Hopecity Project who was very excited about this highly ambitious project. He stated that it will be a project that will provide jobs to a lot of Ghanaians and see Ghana grow into a highly developed country.
Skin Canvas looks at the growing phenomenon of tattooing amongst young people on Ghana, taking into consideration the influence of foreign media and the traditions of Ghana with very beautiful and stunning visuals.
The idea for making Perished Diamonds came when I decided to help my friend Jennifer Blaylock carry out her research at the Information Services Department. I was stunned when I got there and saw all the discarded film reels she had to sort out as part of her research.
In 1997, Ghana Films was leased to a Malaysian Company to revamp but instead Ghana Films was turned into a TV Station which we all now know as TV3. All the black and white film material was burnt and or thrown away.
I thought it will be good to document the story leading to the fall of the film industry.
A proposal was sent to the Goethe Institut for funding and Lifeforms Limited both of whom agreed to support the project.
Perhaps the biggest challenge making this film was getting archival material. Finally we managed to get some from Dr. Chris Hesse, Kwame Nkrumah’s personal cameraman. We had the opportunity of speaking to veteran filmmakers such as Ernest Abbeyquaye, Kwaw Ansah, Veronica Quarshie and Kofi Middleton-Mends and the Late Professor Kofi Awonor a former director of Ghana Films
Meeting these filmmakers and having them share their experiences working in the film industry at the time was quite exhilarating. They shared their passion for filmmaking and how much they missed it.
After about two weeks of filming, we had gathered about 14 hours of footage. As we had shot on tape at the time and not on cards, we had to capture the footage in real time and Kobby spent two nights capturing the material.
After about 5 months of editing (we didn’t edit every day of the week), we finally got the film together and screened at the Goethe Institut Ghana to great acclaim. Perished Diamonds has gone to screen at The African Women in Film Forum, Dak’art, Senegal, The University of Capecoast, The Film Skillet Documentary Film Contest in Carlifonia, USA, the Cinema du Francophone Film Festival in Accra and The Canal France International Memory Workshop. It is also scheduled to screen in Cologne in Germany in September.