Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Relationship challenges - issues in Sinking Sands movie

'Sinking Sands' follows 'I Sing Of A Well' (ISOAW), from the stable of director, Leila Djansi from Ghana. I had been really excited about this movie with the casting of Haiti's Jimmy Jean-Louis and Ama Abrebrese. After watching Sinking Sands, I had one word. Unique. It was unlike any Ghanaian movie I had ever seen. And that's the major reason why you should see it. I already wrote a movie review but in this post, I want to talk about some of the issues the movie raises.

The movie also reminds me of a great blog post my friend wrote about relationships. How much of one's dreams and wants must one sacrifice to be in a serious relationship? Do we lose ourselves by becoming 'attached'? Do we have to sacrifice our own happiness and does happiness take a new meaning? Do partners take out their frustrations (whether borne from inside the home or out of it) on each other? Obviously, they share the good times as well.

Does the Ghanaian society consider mature women who are single as strong women? I felt our society respects women who are married more. It's almost like women have to be married to be taken seriously in many spheres of Ghanaian life. Do we see them as such because they are dealing with the challenges of their careers alongside the challenges of raising and keeping a family together?

Perfect Picture dealt with a couple who had trouble making love, Scorned dealt with a couple not in love, Sinking Sands deals with another couple where loves goes sour. Its couple is in distress with abuse involved. This occurence is not foreign to Ghanaian families and many people will be able to relate. The movie will get many people thinking about how long people can sustain abuse. The question of divorce and separation also comes up. I personally am not a fan of both but the movie seems to make a case for them. Watching this movie gives us an example to make the debate rage on.

When relationships go sour, where do people seek refuge? Do they seek refuge by sleeping with others. Is it sex that people want and something they need to find? Some people claim 'angry sex' is the best kind, but is 'make up sex' critical in a relationship? I always thought how it was interesting for people to address the problems in the relationship with others and not themselves. It's almost as if it's impossible to do the latter.

This begs another question. It's been said since time immemorial that men like to cheat. But do men cheat because their relationships are being problematic as opposed to them just wanting 'something' different? Another interesting subplot here is who do men cheat with? Their girl friends whose identities are unknown to their partners? Prostitutes? Someone they meet at a bar where they have gone to drink their problems away? Let's not leave the women out, because like I heard on a TV show recently, "women also have their needs".

At what point is enough enough? What will people say? Ghanaian relationships, especially marriages, tend to involve more than two people. What people make of it becomes really important. People will talk but they are not suffering the problems in the relationship. The people who do are the families and that's why they have the ability to keep these relationships together. I am beginning to realise a lot of Ghanaians families that are separated or divorced. Interestingly, it happens mostly with upper class families. Is this correlated to the career and family business? Are upper class and educated couples too smart to co-exist?

Do new entrants into the relationship - like kids - change the game and force the relationship to remain? A friend told me the other time, you don't have to marry someone simply because you have a kid with them. I guess that equates to, you don't have to stay with someone simply because you have a kid or would have one with them as well. I am a fan of broken homes. I will love to see all families happy but it's a reach with this world that we live in. Abortion, let's leave that debate for another time. It does come in Sinking Sands as well with some interesting scenes.

How the movie ends is for you to find out. In my opinion, I would like to see our marriages last and work out. Marriages are not only built on love, they are built on companionship and longevity. Domestic abuse departs from all these building blocks. Love alone can not solve all, neither do apologies. I don't know what it is but sometimes the solutions to some problems require more than love. Maybe that's what the Love Guru and folks like Oprah can tell us. Mensa Otabil? Akumaa Mama Zimbi? Leila Djansi? :-) She did write Facebook page. I'm not saying the movie is her answer but the movie, Sinking Sands, does have an answer. Go and see it. Follow on Twitter @sinkingsands

Turning Point Pictures' Sinking Sands - a movie review

After watching 'I Sing Of A Well' (ISOAW), loving it and writing a review, I eagerly anticipated the next movie from Leila Djansi's stable. I also interviewed her about ISOAW and when Sinking Sands was being made ready for its Ghana premiere, I was offered the chance to preview Leila's 'Sinking Sands'. I had been really excited about this movie with the casting of Haiti's Jimmy Jean-Louis and Ama Abrebrese. After watching Sinking Sands, I had one word. Unique. It was unlike any Ghanaian movie I had ever seen. And that's the major reason why you should see it.

The movie centers around domestic abuse but this only comes about because some changes come in the relationship between Gyimah (Jimmy's character) and Pabi (Ama's character). I think Jimmy does well in his African movie debut. Well, unless you want to count Phat Girlz (which featured Moqniue Parker) as the debut. It wasn't too difficult for him to fit in as his Haitian accent is not a marked departure from a Ghanaian one. On the other hand, Ama has been in the UK a long while, being the face of OBE TV and I found myself being more critical of her accent. She was very 'Ghanaian' with how she intertwined her English with Twi and Ghanaian words like 'wae', etc. I think Leila did a great job with using the dialogue to make the movie as Ghanaian as possible. Both Jimmy and Ama shined in their roles and their on screen chemistry was not forced.

The shortcomings of the movie can be found in the subject matter. Domestic abuse is a tough and interesting subject for the average Ghanaian movie goer. Sinking Sands is what you'd call a 'serious movie'. It's the kind of movie that wins Oscars but doesn't do well at the box office. I think Sinking Sands will become a hit off the shelves but not ncessarily on the big screen. The movie has its funny lines and superb dialogue but once the movie takes the turn and becomes 'serious', we see a dearth of those.

ISOAW was a movie set before the colonial times, Sinking Sands is set in the present day. Leila and her crew ensured the realities of the script and the movie coming to life. It's important for movies to showcase different things to make viewers realise how the movie signifies the people it portrays. Some scenes may not be relevant in the grand scheme of the movie but they convey the culture and lifestyle of the characters involved. This is another feather in Sinking Sands' cap. As if the movie wasn't not Ghanaian enough, we see the Ghanaian flag flying at the local school, a lady using it as a headwrap, a guy wearing it, amongst other things. I guess you can't really incorporate a Ghanaian flag into a corn mill scene :-)

I love movies with great dialogue and Sinking Sands is one of them. I'd dissect the dialogue in another post. It's not forced, not like in other Ghanaian movies which seem to try hard to impress viewers with Big English. Yes, I am talking about those movies. The dialogue in Sinking Sands is a mixture of English and Twi and the viewers don't need subtitles to realise what is going on. The score and soundtrack is also great. If you think about a lot of the Ghanaian songs out there, it's tough to get appropriate tracks for the movie's subject matter so it falls on a lot of foreign tracks, even Spanish ones, to set the mood of the scenes. More about that in another post.

The movie has a good number of romantic scenes. They have come to stay, my people. Don't act surprised when you see them. Africans make love too. Ghanaians want to see these scenes, but the way these scenes are presented makes a wealth of difference. Sinking Sands does them well and they are relevant and timely when they appear.

The movie's storyline can be thought of as a rainy day. First the sun sets, right when the first signs of infidelity (trouble) appear. The tricky thing is you don't see the clouds forming. What comes to your mind when you think of clouds? It's going to rain. And when it rains, it pours. Clouds are premonitions of trouble to come. And then the rains fall. In Sinking Sands, they fall hard and you know sandy soil doesn't hold up rain really well. When you consider the major relationship in the movie, there's a whole lot of sinking involved. The movie doesn't sink though, each scene gets better and better and it makes you wonder how it would end.

I am not one to rate the movie out of 10 or whatever. The fact that I am reviewing the movie and will blog about it a couple more times means that I am recommending it. Support great Ghanaian and African cinema. Especially those that generate discussions that we must have as a people. You can catch the movie showing somewhere in Ghana. Follow updates on its Facebook page. Follow on Twitter @sinkingsands. Turning Point Pictures.

Buy ISOAW today!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Barcamp Takoradi is coming November 27 at the Takoradi Technical Institute #bctdi @barcamptakoradi

While organizing the very first Barcamp Ghana in December 2008, Dorothy Gordon, the CEO of the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (Accra), encouraged to us that we should take the barcamp event to other places in Ghana. We made a promise to ourselves. Two years on, the dream is materializing. We had an actual Barcamp Accra in October and before we had Barcamp Kumasi. This month, we'd have Barcamp Takoradi on the 27th at the Takoradi Technical Institute (TTI), . And we won't stop till we have Barcamps in Tuabodom, Tain and (Cape) Three Points. #VIM! #Tsooboi!

BarCamp Takoradi 2010, an ad-hoc gathering where attendees will meet for discussions, demos and networking, will take place on November 27, 2010 at the Takoradi Technical Institute (TTI), campus in Takoradi, Ghana. The theme will be “Leading & Entreprising in an Oil & Technology Fuelled Economy”. BarCamp Takoradi is building on the success of Ghanaian BarCamp events to ignite Sekondi/Takoradi & Western Region's focused discussions and actions in order to bring about much-needed change. It is being organized by the BarCamp Takoradi team which is convened under the GhanaThink Foundation. It has the experience of successfully organizing four BarCamps in Ghana: Barcamp Ghana 08 and 09, Barcamp Kumasi 2010 and Barcamp Accra 2010.

The BarCamp Ghana team which is convened under the GhanaThink Foundation has successfully organized four BarCamps in Ghana. Barcamp Ghana 2008 at the Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in IT (KACE-AITI) on December 22, 2008; Barcamp Ghana 2009 at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in East Legon in Accra on December 21, 2009; Barcamp Kumasi 2010 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on September 18, 2010 and BarCamp Accra 2010 at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in East Legon in Accra on October 2, 2010. The events have brought together over a thousand leaders and change makers.

Barcamp Takoradi’s goals include facilitating organic networking and help attendees identify business partners for future projects and ventures. It will also offer local businessmen and women the chance to promote and get feedback on their entreprises and ventures. It will also help build a local community and network of entrepreneurs, leaders and businessmen after the Barcamp. The Barcamp will also identify business opportunities in the oil and gas industry and attendant opportunities for a growing local economy.

BarCamps all over the world have brought together individuals and organizations to collaborate on various projects and businesses. BarCamp Takoradi ’10 is a FREE event for anyone who is interested in using their skills, talent, and resources to benefit Ghana and Africa as a whole. This year, the focus is on discussing how important collaboration between different industries, business, academia and public institutions is key for opportunity and development.

Takoradi Technical Institute is the only school in West Africa to have a fab lab (fabrication laboratory). The Fab Lab program was started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There will be an exhibition of work from the Takoradi Fab Lab. The speakers will include Nana Kobina Nketsia, Wilson Arthur, Amos Anyimadu, amongst others.

Register/RSVP today at the BarCamp Takoradi eventbrite website. If you are interested in organizing a breakout session or promoting a business or venture, let us know, especially if you have special needs. You may also contact the BarCamp Takoradi team through this website for sponsorship opportunities. BarCamp Takoradi 2010 is sponsored by the Takoradi Technical Institute (TTI), Google Ghana, GhanaThink Foundation, Fie.nipa, etc.

See you there!

New Ghanaian movie, Elmina, centers around oil and colonialism

I have blogged a whole lot about the folks at Fienipa but why shouldn't I? They are doing an awesome job with getting African content online and you should join me in supporting them. Their latest project is movies.fienipa.com, sort of an African IMDB. What prompted this post was an entry about the new Ghanaian movie called Elmina. Does Elmina sound familiar? It's the hometown of the MIghTy African, the guy writing this very post. It's also the first point and spot the Europeans landed at when they came to Africa. Yup, on 19th January 1482, 600 men lead by Don Diego d'Azambuja arrived in Elmina. Elmina is historical and important like that. And now Elmina is on the big screen? Thanks to Revele Films, the folks who brought you the award-winning 'Run, Baby, Run' movie.

The producers of the two hit mini-series ‘Home Sweet Home’ and ‘Hotel St. James’, alongside the popular movie "Fire to Fire’ that featured local comedian Agya Koo, and ‘Agyapadie’, are back. The movie 'Elmina' was set and shot in the Central and Western regions of Ghana. From the Fienipa link, it says "‘Elmina’ tells a story of colonialism, greed, hatred, love and betrayal.". The story is about a family in crisis and the main theme is centered on colonialism and the oil which has been discovered in commercial quantities. Wow, someone made a movie about oil as well as colonialism? How brilliant!

The movie was premiered in Tate Gallery in the UK in October 2010 before making appearance in Ghana in December 2010. Some of the actors in the movie are Kofi Bucknor, Akorfa Asiedu, Ama K. Abebrese, John Apea, Kojo Dadson, Redeemer Mensah, amongst others, including Douglas Fishbone from England.

Watch the trailer here

It seems the hero in the movie is a white man? We see him questioning the higher authorities for them making their community members to sell their land. We see him say "We are being cheated by the white people", while he himself is White. And is he the character called 'Ato'? Agya wadwo! I hope he doesn't overshadow the movie, After all, in the trailer, he (Doug Fishbone) is mentioned even before Revele Films. Or is this a Flatbush Films venture whose local partner is Revele Films? Plenty questions.

Anyway, I am so excited about the movie! I have been to Elmina a number of times and hope to identify various places in the movie. There's also Barcamp Takoradi coming up in November which will talk about oil. Ghana's excited about the oil find and as much as Revele Films is excited about this too, the Elmina movie is meant to educate folks about the oil find. Just like what Barcamp Takoradi will be doing. Hey, maybe the Apeas can come to the Barcamp and discuss the movie. Imagine if we did find oil in those colonial times, how different would Ghana be now? Maybe the movie 'Elmina' will offer some answers.

Actor John Apea is interviewed by Ameyaw Debrah about the movie. Dude went to Presec? In lumine tuo, videbimus lumen!


Q&A about African movie, Paparazzi - Eye in the Dark

I already blogged about upcoming Paparazzi - Eye in the Dark movie here when the trailer came out. The movie features Ghana's Koby Maxwell who also sings the lead single in the soundtrack called "Do it". After I saw the trailer for the movie, I was very excited and proclaimed it the best movie Van Vicker has been in. Yes, @theRealVanVicker. I decided to ask Koby Maxwell and other people behind the movie a few questions about it. Below is the interview transcript.

MightyAfrican: Who birthed the idea for the movie?
Koby Maxwell: I came up with this story. My brother Kojo Adu Ansah and the director worked on it to put it together.

MightyAfrican: Why was Van Vicker chosen for the lead role? Who else was considered?
Koby Maxwell: Van Vicker is currently the hottest Actor in the business and the industry. I did carry out a survey on a cross-section of the Nollywood movie fans about who they would like to see in my production. Many responded and made mention of Van Vicker and Majid Michel. Unfortunately, Majid Michel was not available because he had other commitments. Van Vicker is a personal friend who wanted to help me make it work. He liked the story from the start and was the first actor I did cast.

MightyAfrican: How was the rest of the cast chosen?
Koby Maxwell: My director was very much involved. After the initial audition, the director and I took a look at the caliber of actors we had available and decided to give it further review. After much deliberation, it was decided to conduct a second audition, this time to cast the net even much wider and bring around a lot more seasoned actors. That’s how we arrived at the cast we presently have.

MightyAfrican: The movie showcases the life of an African musician based in the US. Is the movie purely fiction?
Koby Maxwell: The premise of the plot is purely fictional. You and I are living in a time where the lives of our celebrities are under the scrutiny of peeping Toms. Our African actors are no different. Thanks to the internet and other forms of media, we get to hear salacious stories, often untrue about African musicians.

MightyAfrican: Based on your experiences as an African musician based in the US, how much paparazzi have you had to deal with?
Koby Maxwell: I have not had to deal with too much of the paparazzo. What I have experienced occasionally are certain characters who try to pry inti my private life

MightyAfrican: The movie’s cast features actors from many African countries. Is this intentional?
Koby Maxwell: Yes. The cast is mainly made up of African actors although it also features Syr Law (Tyler Perry, Diary of a Mad Black Woman).

MightyAfrican: Which musicians are featured on the soundtrack for the movie?
Koby Maxwell: I worked with Chris Deshield, Paco Colling, LA Sting and Don Mike on a number of the soundtracks

MightyAfrican: What is the timeline for the movie premieres and which cities will be the first to watch the movie?
Koby Maxwell: My production company and I are tentatively are planning for a late January 2011 premiere in the Washington D.C and Atlanta metropolitan areas. There are also plans for full screenings in 25-30 cities in the North America and in the Caribbean. So please stay tuned for further details!

MightyAfrican: Many Nollywood movies are shot very quickly, some as quickly as a month or less. How long did it take to shoot Paparazzi –Eye in the Dark? And how long did it take to edit it and make it ready?
Koby Maxwell: You are correct to an extent about the short filming schedules of many
Nollywood movies. However, do bear in mind that although this movie has a number of well-known Nigeria actors, it is far from being labeled a Nollywood type movie. This movie was filmed stateside, and benefited from advanced industry equipment as well as top-notch technical personnel. It took nearly 23 days to shoot this movie and an additional 3 months to edit it. This is far in excess of the average time shoot time for a Nollywood movie and speaks to the deliberation given to this movie.

MightyAfrican: In which locations were the movie shot and why were those chosen?
Koby Maxwell: The movie was shot on locations in the Atlanta area. Our locations scouts chose the city of Atlanta to film the movie since there is less traffic, yet it is still visually stimulating.

MightyAfrican: When and where was the Do it song born? Where and when was the video shot?
Koby Maxwell: The “Do IT” video was shot in September 2010 and featured location scenes of the Washington D.C areas. The video also features extra scenes from the movie “Paparazzi–Eye in the Dark”. The music video is on rotation on a number of T.V stations and can be viewed on YouTube.

MightyAfrican: In the movie’s trailer, we see that Max’s single is first on the Billboard charts. What do you think needs to happen for us to see African musicians get to those heights in the US?
Koby Maxwell: To paraphrase a statement from an article by Neela Bannerjee I read in the online publication The Root, “African music would need to get someone else's seal of approval before American consumers tune in”. Take the case of Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour. In all these instances, the African artistes or acts have had to collaborate to attain that hard-won reputation. That’s not to say that an African musician cannot reach such heights on his own merits. It will certainly require a great deal of effort on the part of the musician’s record label and incorporation of a lot of western styles of music. Although the final product (sound) might be distinct, it comes at the risk of the African artiste sacrificing his traditional arrangements and instrumentality on the altar of compromise.

MightyAfrican: Paparazzis’ Tagline is “There’s always an eye in the dark”. Do you think African celebrities live their lives with utmost care because of the paparazzi?
Koby Maxwell: To some extent they do. Fortunately for African celebrities, they do not have to live their lives mercilessly exposed to the glaring spotlight of unwanted publicity as it occurs in Europe and in America. That said, I believe when an individual comes into the public eye, his/her every action or statement is carefully scrutinized especially because of technology and the Internet.

MightyAfrican: The Paparazzi movie will showcase a lot of photography. How important are photographers in the African media industry with the advent of all these bloggers, and many people having access to good cameras?
Koby Maxwell: In many places of Africa, photographers are seen as just important as the writers we have. There is a long history of struggling towards democracy that has established a strong tradition of documentary photography. Photographers offer the rest of the world an unfiltered view of the continent through their camera lenses.

MightyAfrican: What measures have to be taken to see the movie premiered or shown in different parts of the US?
Koby Maxwell: Currently, there plans underway to ensure that the movie is premiered in 25-30 cities across the US and Canada. A number of organizations have been contacted and are working with my production company to make this happen. In the mean time, if a group or organization is interested in having this movie premiered in their part of this country, they can simply contact us via the film’s website http://www.eyeinthedark.com/ and we will try our utmost best to make it possible.

MightyAfrican: What measures have to be taken to see the movie premiered or shown in different parts of Africa?
Koby Maxwell: My production company and I are working on a number of fronts to make this possible. A number of cinema houses in a couple of African countries have approached us and expressed interest in premiering the movie at their stablishments. Due to logistical concerns, we are taking such offers on a case-by-case basis. Again, I ask that movie houses interested to contact us via the movie’s website and for movie patrons on the African continent to reach out to the management of their local cinema houses and demand it to be shown. We will also keep you and your readers abreast on any finalized details as they become available.

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