Ghana’s film industry dates back to the late 1940s, starting out as an arm of the Gold Coast Film Unit. Since the end of colonialism, Ghana’s film industry has lived through periods of boom and bust, however, in recent times, Ghana’s film industry has stymied due to economic hardships.
Shirley Frimpong-Manso is Ghana’s best known filmmaker. She puts this struggle into perspective.
“There is no money anywhere, because people do not buy movies on CDs anymore and for most Ghanaians, [watching a movie] at the cinema is not an option,” she says. “t’s a luxury that many simply cannot afford.”
Ghana has had to partner with Nigeria, exchanging talent to benefit from the greater opportunity and exposure present in Nollywood, Nigeria’s indigenous film industry.
Though it’s hard to measure progress in the midst of struggle, Ghana is still propagating talents who are wearing multiple hats and doing unique work to keep the industry afloat. Frimpong-Manso manages to create films challenging Ghanaian societal norms through her film production company, Sparrow Productions. Frimpong-Manso is a legitimate triple threat as a writer, producer and director with a filmography including romantic thrillers, Scorned, Devil In The Details, and her latest film, Grey Dawn.
In her recent sit-down with Variety, Frimpong makes it clear she still believes there’s hope in Ghanaian films maturing and flourishing beyond the country’s borders through avenues like Nollywood and the Africa Channel.
“These are people who want African content,” she says. “Our stories need to be able to cut across borders.”
One of the homegrown Ghanaian talents who’s making headway across borders is Prince David Osei.
One of Ghana’s top leading men, Osei is best known outside of Ghana for his role in the British zombie movie, The Dead. Within Ghana, he’s being celebrated for his latest and most creative role in the thriller, Last Night. Last Night is a unique film— it’s a one-man cast movie, a Ghana film industry first.
Osei, who also produced the film, beams over his role.
“The movie Last Night will forever remain the most memorable movie I ever shot because is the first ever one-cast movie in Africa and Ghana,” he says. ” I know one-cast movies have been shot in Hollywood, America but I have not seen anything like this in Africa, so, I think it is real and will forever remain in the minds of Ghanaians.”
It’s hard times that reveal and build character, and as the Ghana film industry continues its evolution, it should prove interesting to watch it bloom.