A Ghanaian documentary on streetism titled, 'Up In Alms' has won Best Documentary at the 6th Emergence Film Festival held in Togo between 9th and 13th November 2019.
The winning film directed by Goddy Nana Mens beat off stiff competition from Nicole Deba’s From Heart To Spirit, Fidel Hounhouede’s The Mask of Guelede, Michael Gandoh’s One For All and Mama Wary Thioubou’s 5 Stars.
The Emergence Film Festival founded by Togolese film director Joel Mmaka Tchedre in 2014 celebrates some of the best high quality, low budget films primarily from across West Africa. This year’s festival featured films from Cameroun, Togo, Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Egypt, Morocco and Haiti.
'Up In Alms' is a film about Rahel, a 23-year-old, third-generation street girl who wishes for formal education or to become a hair stylist but is unable to pursue her dream because she spends all her time catering for her disabled mother and two children.
The short documentary is a raw portrayal of the immense hardship of life on the streets and the considerable dangers street people navigate each day. Perhaps what is more striking in the film is the glimpse into the dreadful night life of street people; a sneak peek into how homeless people suffer through the night while everyone else sleeps.
Reacting to the award, Director of the film, Goddy Nana Mens expressed delight over winning the trophy and dedicated the honor to his team. “I’m extremely happy for this award. This is actually my first film as a Director. I am especially excited because of the heavyweights on the panel. But even though I received it, the award belongs to the entire film crew, Weltfilme.org, the Ghana YMCA and all the partners of the All On Board film project which birthed this film. But most especially, I dedicate this award to our protagonist, Rahel Kusi, who opened up her heart and life and allowed us to tell her story to the world. She is the real winner.”
Goddy also explained the motivation for choosing to tell the story of street people. He explained that some of the nation’s best human resources are wasting away in the streets and urged efforts to reach out to them. “We chose this theme because it was in line with the theme of the film project which produced this film. It was on marginalised groups in society. So, we chose to tell the story of a street family and we were all surprised at some of the quality of the minds on the streets. What we also realised was that contrary to general perception that street people were lazy beggars, many of them were decent people working honestly for their wages. We could have a fine crop of human resource from the streets if we can consciously focus on refining them,” he stated.
Aside 'Up in Alms,' the festival also featured two other Ghanaian productions. Peter Sedufia’s critically acclaimed, FESPACO-winning film, Keteke opened the festival; while Kwabena Eddie Mankata’s fictional film Carrying Dreams was screened on Day Two of the festival.
'Up In Alms' is one of the six short films produced by the Weltfilme-YMCA Ghana Film Training Project which run from March to December 2018.