Cinema of Ghana

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Cinema in Ghana began when early film making was first introduced to the British colony of Gold Coast (now Ghana).[1][2][3] In the 1950s, film making in Ghana began to increase.[4][5][6][7] Cinemas were the primary venue for watching films until home video became more popular.[sources 1]

Cinema in the colonial period

In the1920s, individuals in the private sector brought film to Ghana by opening cinemas in urban areas. Cinema vans were used in rural areas.[16]

In the 1940s, the Information Services Department of the colonial government used green-yellow Bedford buses to screen documentary films, newsreels and government information films to the public. Attendance was free. (Sakyi 1996: 9). The films included propaganda films about World War II which were produced by the Colonial Film Unit (CFU) in London. (cf. Diawara 1992: 3). After the war, the unit produced educational films and feature films for the African colonies. The films were designed to contrast the Western "civilised" way of life with the African "backward" way of life. They suggested "superstitious" customs should be ceased. (Diawara 1992: 3; Ukadike 1994: 44ff).

The Gold Coast Film Unit, produced films with local interest to encourage improvements in health, crops, living, marketing and human co-operation. (Middleton—Mends 1995: 1; Diawara 1992: 5). In 1948, the Gold Coast Film Unit began to train local African film makers. Films were exchanged with other British colonies in Africa. (Middleton-Mends ibid.)[16]

Contemporary cinema

Since the late 1980s, the making of direct-to-video films has increased in Ghana.[17] Funds for cinematography were hard to come by, for both the state owned Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) and for independent film makers. Therefore, people in Ghana began to make their own films using VHS videocameras. Such film makers created a brief outline of the film, assembled actors both professional and amateur and made successful films, especially in Accra. Income from these VHS video movies helped to support the cinema industry. The GFIC offered technical support to the VHS video film makers in exchange for the right to first screening in its Accra cinemas. By the early 1990s, approximately fifty VHS video movies per year were made in Ghana. Over time, professional and amateur film makers in Ghana produced films of similar quality and garnered equal respect.

In 1996, the government of Ghana sold seventy percent of the equity in the GFIC to the Malaysian television production company, Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad of Kuala Lumpur. The GFIC was renamed "Gama Media System Ltd". The company had little interest in film making and so the film industry in Ghana continued with independent film makers. Their ongoing funding relied on the popular appeal of the films.[18] For example, in Ghanaian cinema there is a popular theme of darkness and the occult placed in a framework of Christian dualism involving God and the Devil (see Meyer 1999a). [19]

Twi dialect are known as "Kumawood" films. Other Ghanaian films are sometimes known as "Ghallywood" productions.[sources 2] Films depicting African witchcraft are popular in Ghana, despite criticism being directed towards them.[sources 3] Ghana produces low-budget visual effects films. These include 2016 (2010), and Obonsam Besu (Devil May Cry).[32][33][34]

In about 2006, the Nigerian filmmaker Frank Rajah Arase collaborated with Venus Films, a Ghanaian production company to help Ghanaian actors to access work in Nigeria (Nollywood). Some of the actors involved were successful including Van Vicker, Jackie Appiah, Majid Michel, Yvonne Nelson, John Dumelo, Nadia Buari and Yvonne Okoro. Some Nigerian producers have filmed in Ghana where production costs are lower.[35] Such arrangements have created discord over employment opportunities for Nigerians.[36][37]


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  • Diawara, Manthia. 1992. African Cinema. Politics & Culture. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
  • Geschiere, Peter. 1997. The Modernity of Witchcraft. Politics and the Occult in Postcolonial Africa. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia
  • Gifford, Paul. 1994. “Ghana’s Charismatic Churches”. Journal of Religion in Africa 64 (3): 241-65
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  • Mensah, G.B. 1989. “The Film Industry in Ghana — Development, Potentials and Constraints”. University of Ghana, Legon: Unpublished Thesis.
  • Meyer, Birgit. 1995. “Delivered from the Powers of Darkness. Confessions about Satanic Riches in Christian Ghana”. Africa Vol. 65 (2): 263—55.
  • Meyer, Birgit. “Make a complete break with the past. Memory and Post—colonial Modernity in Ghanaian Pentecostalist discourse”. Journal of Religion in Africa XXVII (3):316-349.
  • Meyer, Birgit. 1999a. Translating the Devil. Religion and Modernity Among the Ewe in Ghana. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Meyer, Birgit.1999b. “Popular Ghanaian Cinema and the African Heritage”. Working Paper 7. The Hague: WOTRO-Project “Globalization and the Construction of Communal Identitie”.
  • Middleton—Mends, Kofi. 1995. “Video-Production — Which Direction?” Unpublished Paper.
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  • Morton—Williams. 1953. Cinema in Rural Nigeria. A Field Study of the Impact of Fundamental-Education Films on Rural Audiences in Nigeria. West African Institute of Social and Economic Research, University College, Ibadan.
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  • Sakyi, Kwamina. 1996. “The Problems and Achievements of the Ghana Film Industry Corporation and the Growth and Development of the Film Industry in Ghana”. University of Ghana, Legon: Unpublished Thesis.
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Reference notes


  1. ^ Frindéthié, K. Martial (24 March 2009). "Francophone African Cinema: History, Culture, Politics and Theory". McFarland – via Google Books. 
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  3. ^ Martin, Michael T. (1 January 1995). "Cinemas of the Black Diaspora: Diversity, Dependence, and Oppositionality". Wayne State University Press – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ "Storytelling from the Margins: Accra's Emerging Cinema Shifts National Memory". 7 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "The New Face Of Cinema In Ghana". Globe Entertainment. 13 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Davis, Lauren. "The Curious Art of Ghana's Mobile Movie Posters". 
  7. ^ Frindéthié, K. Martial (24 March 2009). "Francophone African Cinema: History, Culture, Politics and Theory". McFarland – via Google Books. 
  8. ^ Mammadyarov, Riyad. "Watch: Experience the Power of Ghanaian Cinema in Exclusive 'Nakom' Trailer - IndieWire". Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  9. ^ Yamoah, Michael. "The New Wave in Ghana's Video Film Industry : Exploring the Kumawood Model". Retrieved 17 September 2016. 
  10. ^ Brown, Ryan Lenora (4 February 2016). "How Ghana's Gory, Gaudy Movie Posters Became High Art". The Atlantic. 
  11. ^ Salm, Steven J.; Falola, Toyin (1 January 2002). "Culture and Customs of Ghana". Greenwood Publishing Group – via Google Books. 
  12. ^ Meyer, Birgit (16 October 2015). "Sensational Movies: Video, Vision, and Christianity in Ghana". University of California Press – via Google Books. 
  13. ^ Saul, Mahir; Austen, Ralph A. (12 October 2010). "Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution". Ohio University Press – via Google Books. 
  14. ^ Hayward, Susan (3 January 2013). "Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts". Routledge – via Google Books. 
  15. ^ Ukadike, Nwachukwu Frank (1 May 1994). "Black African Cinema". University of California Press – via Google Books. 
  16. ^ a b Dr. Mawuli Adjei (2014). "The Video-Movie Flourish in Ghana: Evolution and the Search for Identity". Research on Humanities and Social Sciences. 4 (17): 61. ISSN 2225-0484. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  17. ^ Dr. Mawuli Adjei (2014). "The Video-Movie Flourish in Ghana: Evolution and the Search for Identity". Research on Humanities and Social Sciences. 4 (17). 
  18. ^ "The Video Film Industry" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  19. ^ Meyer, Birgit; Pels, Peter (31 May 2017). "Magic and Modernity: Interfaces of Revelation and Concealment". Stanford University Press. Retrieved 31 May 2017 – via Google Books. 
  20. ^ "Adjorlolo: Kumawood actors 'not primitive'|Class FM Online". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  21. ^ Christie, Marian. "Ellen White: I don't belong to Kumawood". Ghana Live TV. Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  22. ^ "I'm not a Kumawood actor but rep Ghallywood - Ellen White". 26 March 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  23. ^ a b "Ghallywood Opens Up To Media". 28 May 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  24. ^ Tamakloe, Aseye. "Social representation in Ghanian cinema" (PDF). Retrieved 17 September 2016. 
  25. ^ Garritano, Carmela. "African Video Movies and Global Desires" (PDF). Retrieved 17 September 2016. 
  26. ^ "Flex Newspaper – "Action Movies Can Scare Witches"- Ashbowa". 
  27. ^ Ampadu, Vivian E. D. "The Depiction of Mental Illness in Nigerian and Ghanaian movies: A negative or positive impact on mental health awareness in Ghana?" (PDF). Retrieved 17 September 2016. 
  28. ^ Badoe, Yaba. "Representing Witches in contemporary Ghana: challenges and reflections on making the 'Witches of Gambaga'" (PDF). Retrieved 17 September 2016. 
  29. ^ "Filmmaker battles to save Ghana's historic cinema - Voices of Africa". 22 November 2013. 
  30. ^ "Samuel Ofori fires producers of 'witchcraft' movies | Entertainment 2016-06-28". 2016-06-28. Retrieved 2017-04-19. 
  31. ^ Adinkrah, Mensah (30 August 2015). "Witchcraft, Witches, and Violence in Ghana". Berghahn Books – via Google Books. 
  32. ^ Lamar, Cyriaque Lama (14 November 2011). "2016, the trailer for Ghana's Predator, is the best thing you'll see all day". io9. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  33. ^ Carter, Grey (18 November 2011). "Devil May Cry: The Movie". The Escapist. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  34. ^ Asiedu, William A. "Ghana news: Graphic Online - Graphic Online". 
  35. ^ "Nollywood: Lights, camera, Africa". The Economist. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  36. ^ Ebirim, Juliet (22 March 2014). "Are the Ghanaian actors taking over Nollywood?". Vanguard Newspaper. The Vanguard. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  37. ^ Enengedi, Victor (23 September 2013). "NET SPECIAL FEATURE: Ghanaian actresses take over Nollywood". Nigerian Entertainment Today. The NET NG. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
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