The Black Star International Film Festival (BSIFF), on Thursday, February 28, 2019, organized a symposium at the African Regent Hotel in Accra to deliberate on a number of issues in Ghana's movie industry.
The symposium which was held under the theme: "Ghana as a co-production hub", saw industry players throng the venue to partake in the discussions so as to chart a clear path to restore the film industry in Ghana to its rightful place.
In setting the premise for the symposium, award-winning actress and convener of the discussion, Juliet Asante, remarked that: "We are in interesting times globally and locally. Films like Black Panther, BlackKklansman, Girls Trip and breakthroughs like Genevieve Nnaji's Lion Heart and Ghana's own The Burial of Kojo by Blitz the Ambassador, have shown that the world does have a thirst for the African story done with the right production values and that African filmmakers can make more money here".
On the issue related to references of co-production in other parts of Africa that Ghana also had to take advantage of, the Deadly Voyage cast noted that: "Countries like South Africa and Nigeria have also managed to sell as great film locations and great partners for co-production."
Among the highly-qualified members of the panel for the symposium were Beast of No Nation cast, Ama K. Abebrese, Pascal Aka, Filmmaker and Director; James Aboagye, Scriptwriter, Producer and Director and Juliet Yaa Asantewaa Asante, Founding President of BSIFF.
The symposium was moderated by entertainment industry player and seasoned journalist, William Aseidu.
Panelists zoomed into answering questions on the need for co-production in Ghana and the role the government had to play to ensure that filmmakers had the best treatment so as to promote the country.
They bemoaned the red tapeism involved in getting approval to use locations in Ghana for projects which they felt they had to be readily available since the motive was to promote tourism to these sites.
Juliet Asante gave a number of instances where some popular movies including world-acclaimed series, Game of Thrones, had tourists visiting the location it was shot and added that it invariably meant the country was making money over the visits.
On the issue of governmental support, Pascal Aka moved for there to be some form of grant system where some amount of money is allocated to the filmmaking industry to help in the making of some movies. He also added that the government could also call for submissions of scripts from industry players and ask that they meet certain requirements. Aka then intimated that the best script could then be given the necessary support to promote their movies or come up with a Ghana-themed movie aimed at promoting the country.
The issue of unity among industry players came up and the panelists shared their views on it with many of them moving for a united front so as to facilitate growth in the sector.
James Aboagye also suggested for the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI), to spread its tentacles and have campuses in some of the regions so that the requisite technical know-how would be acquired to enable industry players carry out their jobs. He also said that many of the players in Kumawood did what they did not out of qualification but out of the passion they had for the film industry.
Ama K. Abebrese, in taking her turn to share some thoughts, revealed that many governments have spoken about their plans for the filmmaking industry but their words are more often than not, not back by actions. She added that many proposals had been written to government officials but they are yet to make any headway as in the feedback that they get.
In citing an example of how some countries have grasped the idea of co-production, the Sinking Sands cast gave the example of Dominican Republic who have become a hub in the phenomenon. She intimated that filmmakers are given special treatment including tax waivers and VIP treatment so as to shoot in their country to promote them onto the world stage. She went on to reveal that the director of the project she was working on was invited by the president of Dominican Republic who assured him of his full support.
This, she said, could be a learning point for Ghana and other African countries. "Dominican Republic is a few hours from America and they have people with black skins just like Africans so an American director who wants to depict an African scene would rather go to Dominican Republic instead of flying all the way to an African country to shoot those scenes and Africa is missing out on that," she noted.
Ama K. Abebrese also added that Netflix was now very much interested in African content especially series but the requirement for entry was quite high and moved for filmmakers to up their games so as to have their projects accepted.
Patrons of the symposium made up of veteran actors, young filmmakers, writers, bloggers and actors, shared their views as a way of contributing to the ongoing discussion.
Among the participants of the programme were Oscar Provencal, Eddie Nartey and some members of the international filmmaking bodies.
The panelists, with one voice, moved for journalists and bloggers to to stop promoting indecency and 'trash' news and channel their attention into promoting good content in the filmmaking industry to peak the interest of Ghanaians.
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