A film from Ghana - No Time To Die, by King Ampaw
-I wanted to make this film because in Africa, death and funeral traditions play a significant role. I felt that this culture must be preserved that it will be seen by others before it dies, says film maker and actor King Ampaw on his latest film.
Kongoi Productions met Ampaw and actor David Dontoh in Oslo during this year´s Film fra Sør Festival where No Time to Die was one of the films taking part. King Ampaw is one of the pioneers of film in Ghana. In 1983 he established Afro Movies and has since made a number of documentaries, films and television shows. Ampaw is also known from Werner Herzogs film “Cobra Verde” where he acted alongside Klaus Kinki.
-Although the whole issue of death is a sad one, I wanted to make a comedy out of it. Nowadays, all stories and news about Africa are based on poverty, disease, wars and other negative scenarios. It is important for African film makers to counter this negative picture by showing the other positive sides of the continent,
African film industry is still in its infant stage. With the exception of Nigeria where a new term, Nollywood has emerged, and South Africa, there is still a general lack of infrastructure as well as political will to make the film industry grow. Since the advent of DVDs, the African film industry has also suffered tremendously. Many cinema halls have been closed as people stay home to watch DVDs instead. Worse still is the widespread culture of piracy that has taken roots in many African countries.
Ampaw decries the lack of interest among African governments to promote the film industry. – Our governments do not take the film industry seriously. We still have to depend on handouts from European well-wishers. In many parts of Africa there are no sufficient theater outlets. Private enterprises and governments must establish film circuits where we can exhibit our films.
-The African political elite are still ignorant of the power of film. They have not yet grasped the fact that film can be used as a tool to reach the grassroots. Film is a mass communication tool but the elite think those in the film industry; film makers and actors, are not intelligent enough, says Dontoh, who is one of the biggest actors in Ghana.
There is also lack of interest among film distributors. – International distributors do not want to distribute our films. Only 1-2% of African films get international distribution and this means there is very little chance for our films to reach a wider public, says Ampaw.
Does African film industry have any future?
Here, King Ampaw and David Dontoh have differing views. -The future of African film industry is not bright, says King Ampaw with sheer pessimism. However, actor David Dontoh disagrees. Whereas Ampaw says he does not see any green lights ahead, Dontoh believes that by strengthening the theatre infrastructure which combines film, theatre and music, the communal experience will be awakened among the public. This will lead to people getting used to attend cinema halls as a natural part of cultural experience. Art always grow with the people argues Dontoh.
* King Ampaw and David Dontoh were interviewed by Nasibu Mwanukuzi
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About KonPro: Kongoi Productions is an online promotion and management company that seek to promote African art and music.