words by NANA OSEI KWADWO | images by MANTSE ARYEEQUAYE
The Kwaku Ananse premier in July was everything a film loving crowd would hope for ; great turn out, a participatory crowd and fierce music. The 26 minute short immortalizes the mythical spider by constructing a fresh narrative that retells this famous Ananse tale with multilayered, moody, elliptical shots of a wandering Jojo Abot, who plays Ananse’s daughter. The film suggests that stories normally seen through the lens of post-colonialism could just as easily be seen in existential or mythic terms.
For the record this film had the biggest turn out for an experimental Ghanaian picture, which is a refreshing start. Ghana isn’t known for experimental artsy movies and over the years John Akomfrah has been the only reference when such conversations came up. Our lame claim to his notoriety can stop now.
Akosua Adoma Owusu represents a new wave of filmmakers making bold attempts at disrupting the Ghanaian narrative in order to create new forms of story telling that involve risk taking. Hopefully these risks will explore new audiences and markets that would in turn create Ghanaian cinema the world looks forward to. This Kwaku Ananse story feeds our curiosities and creative interpretations made by the audacious individuals it features.
Grace Omaboe who plays Ananse’s wife has not been in a Ghanaian movie for years. At the height of her career, she was in a very popular TV drama series ‘OBRA’. Then through the mid to late 90’s she had a TV show “By The Fire Side” where she told Ananse stories to children. For the people old enough to remember, this film is like a time machine that travels into that past but tells the story in a sequence far removed from what a Ghanaian audience might be used to.
Another character worth mentioning in the movie is Highlife living legend Agya Koo Nimo who played Kweku Ananse. Koo Nimo brought such character volume to the 26 minute picture, it begged further exploration. That was four months ago, Adoma has since gone on to start new projects, but this is certainly worth the reminder.
We caught up with Akosua Adoma Owusu recently during our STROLLING GOATS episode and talked about film and her new projects.
What first interested you in film?
Well, my background was in the fine arts, specifically, printmaking and sculpture. I discovered my interest in filmmaking after studying 16mm Cinematography at the University of Virginia with an African American filmmaker, Kevin Jerome Everson. Kevin came from a working-class background – I identified with this in Virginia – and his work in experimental short films and traveling to film festivals really inspired me. So I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Film/Video and Art at CalArts against my parents’ wishes. They wanted me to be more practical and pursue a career in medicine like basically all Ghanaian parents. But creating art through a cinematic medium really spoke to me and impassioned me far more than any “practical” choice could have.