Reviving the film industry in Ghana

I have written on this matter so many times that I have even lost count of the number.

This is because, among other reasons, oftentimes experts have said that it is alright for members of a family to come together to watch a movie; especially a matinee on a weekend or even a movie on television because such a practice bonds the family.

It is to be noted, however, that when a movie that has no sensible storyline, contains scenes of violence with too many shootings and contains X-rated materials, then it raises concerns that must be addressed by those whose job it is that such movies are properly rated.

These days such movies are common sights even on national television in the daytime and I believe readers would have seen a movie or two that contained several scenes of armed robbery complete with the shooting to death of the victims of the robbery and also the use of foul language.

Movies such as those described above are clearly not meant for family viewing and must be consigned to midnight viewing. Nonetheless, nobody seemed to be bothered and these toxic filled movies are now a common sight both on the streets and on national television.

Earlier this year, I wrote the following on the film industry in Ghana:

“It has to be stated that the movie industry in Ghana was not like this until the 1990s when some people in national leadership decided to sell the Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) to a group of Malaysians.

“I have always maintained that that sale was a huge mistake and that it demonstrated a lack of understanding of the reason behind the setting up of the GFIC by the government of President Kwame Nkrumah who rightly believed that Africans must tell their own stories just as Hollywood is telling the American story. For example, the outcome of the war in Vietnam was no secret and yet movies made about the war do not tell the true story.

“It is obvious that the sale of the GFIC marked the beginning of the fall in movie making standards in this country and even though there are still people in this country with the talent and training to make good movies, the odds are heavily stacked against them and the few who are into serious movie making seem to be running against the wind.

“One must state that that it was the GFIC that gave Ghana and the world movies such as ‘The Boy Kumasenu,’ ‘I Told You So,’ ‘No Tears for Ananse’ and ‘Hamile’ among many others. It must be added that movies such as ‘Contact,’ ‘His Majesty’s Sergeant’ and ‘Cobra Verde’ were made possible with the collaboration of the GFIC.

“Apart from the making of movies, the GFIC made many documentaries and provided the platform for private movie makers to show their movies. It is sad to recall, however, that many of the useful documentaries made by the GFIC were made bonfires of when the GFIC was sold. What used to be the GFIC is now a television station that shows Latino telenovelas and other such mundane films!

“Again, what the absence of the GFIC has done is to open the floodgates for people, whose knowledge of film making is zero, to take advantage of the situation and package superstition and other such nonsense on film for their personal gain.”

I have always known that the business of film making is a serious one but the rate at which this country is going about it, the time is not far away when it will find out that others are telling our story their own way.

It is against this background that, and with the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) still producing graduates, I think it is about time to start correcting the mistake made by selling GFIC in the 1990s.

Can this situation be reversed? I believe it can be reversed but it will require commitment. The government must set aside a percentage of lottery money for film development as a starter.

Also, it must be stated that the business of movie making is also about capturing the hearts and minds of people. In this country we do not seem to realize this. Already, a big mistake was made in the 1990s with the sale of the GFIC but it is not late to correct that by assisting real movie makers who are now struggling to produce movies.

The time has come to revive the vision that set up the GFIC under the government of President Kwame Nkrumah and this must not be allowed to die.

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