Film is a cultural diplomacy tool, a trade enabler, a global connector an employment creator. It is also a powerful tool for communication. These were some of the points raised by a delegation to the communications ministries by stakeholders of the film industry, lead by the Black Star International film festival (BSIFF)
Amongst the delegation was the president of FIPAG, the vice president of GAFTA, and veteran film makers, Mr. Abequaye, formally of the Ghana Film Industry and Mrs. Akofa Adjani. The delegation was lead by the Executive Director of BSIFF, Juliet Asante, who is herself, a veteran filmmaker. The group emphasized the need for government to work with the industry to pass industry friendly policies.
In his address, Mr. Abequaye pointed out that Ghanaians were key in the formation and stability of one of the most globally successful film festivals in Africa; Fespaco, which takes place in Mali annually. He also pointed out the role of Ghanaians in helping to establish the phenomenon of Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry.
The deputy Minister, Mr. Ato Sarpong on his part, spoke about the impact of film on his own life, and how he had sold films at university to pay bills. He reiterated the importance of film as a communication tool and entreated the industry to take note of its influence during this election season, by making films that push the theme of peace. The Minister, Dr. Omani Boamah, who had been called to an emergency cabinet meeting and was unable to attend the meeting, as earlier planned, left word of his support and the support of the government to ensuring that their ministry works with other relevant ministries to explore industry friendly policies. The government is especially interested in the industry because of its role in providing employment. A typical film set employs 20-50 people per project, on different skill levels. This is therefore seen as a low hanging fruit that the government can help support to contribute to closing the unemployment gaps. The film Industry is also key in pushing tourism, investments and serves as a foreign exchange earner for the country. Learning from the experience of Nigeria, an industry that had grown to become the second largest foreign exchange earner for the Nigeria at some point.
The delegation specifically employed the government to demonstrate its commitment by adopting a policy that mandates all Ghanaian embassies to show Ghanaian films to audiences globally as a way of connecting, engaging and opening up interests to the country. Such a move will create an avenue for engagement and ensure an opportunity for global communities to connect with Ghana, understand and appreciate our culture, develop curiosity that may lead to Tourism and investment.
Mr. Ato Sarpong, on behalf of his ministry, made a firm commitment to this policy. The ministry committed to push forward an actionable plan immediately, working with the foreign, Tourism& creative Arts as well as the trade ministries to pass the policy for all Ghanaian embassies around the world to show Ghanaian films as a tool for engagement.
The ministry will also work to help ensure the passing of the film bill, which has been in the works for some time.
On her part, the Executive Director of the BSIFF, Miss Juliet Asante reiterated the commitment of her team to sustaining the conversation and to working with the government to achieve shared goals. She also took time to explain the event for the festival in August. Which will take place between the 25-27th. With over 1000 films submitted already to the festival, it is clear that the world was waiting for Ghana to make this move and to take her place in the film festival circuit on the continent. Festivals serve as an important platform for local and global engagement. Government expressed its support for the festival strategy to also show films at under-served places around the city. Venues around James Town, Circle, Kasoa, are some of the targeted areas.