Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Me Broni Ba (My White Baby) - filming hair salons in Kumasi

Earlier this week, I received an email from Akosua Adoma Owusu. She is a Ghanaian-American filmmaker based in Alexandria, VA. Not Ghanaian, or American, but a Ghanaian-American. Makes me think of Kobina Aidoo's Neo African-Americans documentary. She told me about her short film, Me Broni Ba (My White Baby) - a lyrical portrait of hair salons in Kumasi has shown at various film festivals around the world. Find out more information about her brilliant work at www.mebroniba.com or mebroniba.tumblr.com.

In her own words, Me Broni Ba is definitely not your typical Ghanaian/nigerian film. It doesn't look typical. It's a short film, the trailers hardly have any dialogue. It talks about a subject I haven't seen any Ghanaian film touch - hair, hair salons. It's not the Ghanaian version of Chris Rock's Good Hair either. The synpsis reads - "Me Broni Ba is a lyrical portrait of hair salons in Kumasi, Ghana. The tangled legacy of European colonialism in Africa is evoked through images of women practicing hair braiding on discarded white baby dolls from the West. The film unfolds through a series of vignettes, set against a child's story of migrating from Ghana to the United States. The film uncovers the meaning behind the Akan term of endearment, me broni ba, which means “my white baby."

Akosua attended art and film school at CalArts in California. What 'trips' her is that her film is being shown and written about at all the reputable film festivals and publications but few Blacks or Africans even know about it. I'm not surprised. How many Ghanaians know a movie like No time to die exists? If you are not advertising the movie in Ghana or distributing it through channels that will see your movie end up on Youtube or being watched on ghananation or onlinenigeria for free, your film is probably not going to be too popular. However, our forefathers did say that a good name is better than riches. A great film will find its viewers and the makers of the film will be rewarded. Rewarded? Akosua has. Her film has gone to the Rotterdam, Athens, and Atlanta Film Festivals. It was also the best documentary short at the Chicago Underground Film Festival last year. In fact, the official selections are too much for me to list here so see them beautifully displayed on the "Me Broni Ba" site.

The movie has an interesting title, Me Broni Ba. We always complain how we (Ghanaians) see everything of the white man as great and better. When we sing about our lovers, we call them "Me broni" (my white person). Nan-sains? Maybe, but it's in our culture and our language. Me Broni Ba could also refer to dolls. I see a lot of my 'sisters' going natural these days, as if to say, let's shun the whole 'white'-long hair-perms-weaves movement. It costs our 'sisters' time and money to look beautiful in this way. I won't lie, those weaves sure do look seizy and tight but some of our 'sisters' also look gorgeous with those natural hairstyles. This movie may have an interesting take on it.

See two official trailers here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjUHt6gL5pE


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k1fGOeIx4k


I hope to watch the movie soon so I can review it. The trailers are interesting enough. I want to learn about hair salons. In Kumasi, no less. No, really.
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