le cinéma "a mijoté dans la casserole africaine" / Ansah ... - Africultures

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le cinéma "a mijoté dans la casserole africaine" / Ansah ... - Africultures

f o c u sLa parole à/Kwaw ANSAHCinema "brewedin the Africanpot"by Gaston Kaboré et Clément TapsobaForeign cinema owners, the explosion ofhome videos and video piracy have not preventedAnglophone Africa from producing successfulfilms. This is the road taken by Kwaw Ansah,Ghanaian director as well as playwright andmusician, who is at present director of "FilmAfrica", a production and distribution company.ECRANS D’AFRIQUE: Could you tell usabout the experience of distribution you hadwith your movie Love brewed in the Africanpot?Kwaw ANSAH: Well at the time when I madeLove brewed in the African pot of course in theAnglophone area of Africa very few African films hadmet with a good box-office success. I must say that Lovebrewed in the African pot has been very success ful inGhana, my own country.The first festival that I attendedwas the Commonwealth Film Festival which wasorganized in Cyprus(Nicosia). Some African ministerswere invited there, especially this minister from Kenyawho was so impressed with Love brewed in the Africanpot that he felt the film had to be shown in Kenya. Theyinvited me to bring the film to Kenya through thechannel of the Kenyan Film Corporation. I was ofcourse interested in seeing how my film could work inKenya even on an experimental basis. Just at that pointin time the last film of this famous secret agent calledJames Bond entitled For your eyes only was also beingdistributed. The two films had somehow been put intocompetition and of course I was wondering how Lovebrewed in the African pot could withstand such a movie,as I knew in Kenya people were used to seeing Hollywoodfilms. But eventually queues for my film were so long fora month and For your eyes only was not making themoney expected, so that the representative of theTwentieth Century Organization in Kenya had to prevailon the Kenyan Film Corporation to withdraw Lovebrewed in the African pot from showing so that theycould make money. It was amusing! and this was thebeginning of the story of the commercial career of myfilm in East Anglophone Africa... and the story continuedfor months and years. It has been an evergreen materialfor a large audience in Africa. The film also went toZimbabwe, Liberia, Zambia... In most cases distributionwas not so smooth especially if you think in terms ofreturns; the money that comes to you when deductionsare made is very little, but at least initially the satisfactionwas there that an African film had been able to withstandor even beat a big budget-made film like For your eyesonly. I think the film took about half a million dollars.It could be more but some countries have not been ableto organize the shows efficiently. It happened that themoney owed to me was squandered. It was always a kindof experience from one country to anothercountry,anyway the film sold itself. This proves thatAfricans to me were really at the start of seeing theirown films and I think I opened the way for other films tocome out and also be some box-office successes.What experience did you have with thedistribution of your next feature filmHeritage... Africa?Well Heritage... Africa, you know , distributionhas been different from Love brewed in the African pot;when Africans try to tell their own story which has somepolitical connotations, something that views with thebasic issues of Africa-how we’ll be humanized and howwe can find a way back to our roots, I think there aresome concerted efforts to try and play it down. I thinkHeritage... Africa has become a challenge to a lot ofpeople including some of the mainstream Africanfilmmakers. So it’s been rather frustrating. I dopersonally make films because I think that film has beenone of the most powerful instruments in thedehumanization process of Africans. So I feel that it’sthe only way we can also repair the damage that hasbeen done to our being. My experience with Heritage...Africa is that distribution is quite difficult. The film wasmade with about 1.5 million dollars. We have notrecouped the investment so far but I think by and by wewill get there, because it’s still breaking certain ground;outside Africa, the African diaspora has discovered thisla parole à/ANSAH11numéro 3 /premier trimestrenumber 3 / first quarter1993

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