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21.05.2006 General News

Pan African festival of documentaries opens in Accra


"It is time Government takes a second look and invest in audio-visual media to conscientise the people for national development", Mr Kwaw Ansah, Chief Executive Officer of TV Africa observed at the weekend.

The celebrated filmmaker and dramatist underscored the role of documentaries by African filmmakers that would tell the African story better, to galvanise the people into action for a rapid development of the continent.

Mr Ansah was speaking to journalists after the opening ceremony of the premier of the first Pan African Festival of Documentaries in Accra on Saturday.

The festival runs from May 20 to May 26, 2006, and features 60 films by notable filmmakers.

Mr Ansah said everything about Africa inspired him, and added that it was time Africa began to take stock of its activities and not to play second fiddle to any power influence.

He said Africa had to establish and build upon her own foundations, demanding that, they believed in themselves and their values. Mr Ansah observed that Africa had made massive contributions to the world's growth, adding that, he was hopeful with the right leadership and awareness among its people, Africa could work itself out of the problems confronting it.

He regretted that a number of frustrated filmmakers had abandoned the industry for lack of support, and therefore, called on Governments to recognize the power of documentaries in increasing awareness on national issues and give it the needed push.

Mr Ansah expressed the hope that the festival would be a good beginning in drawing attention to the role of documentaries. The festival would feature seasoned international film makers like Danny Glover, William Greaves, Kwaw Ansah, Esi Sutherland-Addy, Kofi Awoonor, Chris Kabwato and Clyde Taylor, as well as film scholars and authors Jihan el-Tahiri, Michelle Stephenson. Mousa Toure, Bridget Pickering, Martin Loh and Jacquie Jones.

The festival, being organised by Real Life Production Company, seeks to promote African and African Diaspora documentaries and inspire young filmmakers in their vocation.

Venues for the showing of the documentaries are the BusyInternet, the British Council, the Goethe Institute and the Alliance Francaise, all in Accra.

Kwaw Ansah's 45 minute Crossroads of People Crossroads of Trade, was the first to feature after the opening ceremony at the La Palm Royal Beach last Saturday evening, which was attended by personalities in the film industry.

The "Crossroads" film looks at the peoples of Ghana before they came into contact with Europeans, the periods of trade amongst Africans and Europeans, the Slave Trade, the struggle for independence and the period after independence.

Winner of the award for the Best Documentary film at the Pan African Film Festival in 1989, Crossroads is said to be the first real study on Ghanaians during the pre-colonial era, their ways of life and cultural practices.

The film also reflects on the Slave Trade and how Africans from the Continent influenced life in the new world with their cultural practices.