The Africa Film Society continued its Classics In The Park initiative with the screening of King Ampaw’s Kukurantumi Road To Accra. This movie is the second to be shown in this monthly series. The first movie, I Told You So was screened in October.
An initiative championed by rapper, graphic designer and filmmaker Blitz The Ambassador, Classics In The Park has, as its core mission to showcase to the young generation of movie heads and film makers the type of movies made in the decades past; selling them the ‘real’ Ghanaian stories as well as inspiring them to inject some level of quality in their future works. As Blitz pointed out, ‘our (cultural) amnesia is what’s driving lots of our mediocrity’ and Classics In The Park is to help reverse such mediocrity.
As its name suggest, Classics In The Park adopt its style of screening from the 1950s, where an Outside Broadcast (OB) Van visits a community and screen movies for the people in an open space (park). And on Saturday, at the Akola Boni Park in Osu, many film lovers, with their mats and blankets, came out to watch the movies-both the short and featured films- with great relish.
Before the screening of the main film, Kukurantumi Road To Accra, the audience watched a short documentary on one of Ghana’s renowned photographers James Barnor. James Barnor’s work include photographing Ghana’s first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the political activities of the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP). His photos later adorned the front pages of the ever popular DRUM Magazine.
Next movie screened was on the visit of legendary American Jazz musician, Louis Armstrong to Ghana in 1957. Interviews conducted, speeches he gave about his impressions of Ghana and Africa’s contribution to Jazz music and the durbar held in his honour were covered in this short film. One striking thing about this film was seeing a Ghanaian lady dancing agbadza to Jazz tunes. Legendary stuff!
We also saw the Wanuri Kahui produced sci-fi flick Pumzi. Wanuri is a Kenyan film maker and her story followed the works of an African scientist who went through obstacles in her quest to save the world-by planting a seed outside the confines of her country. It’s a movie that feeds into the Afro-futurism theme.
KUKURANTUMI ROAD TO ACCRA was produced by King Ampaw, one of the renowned movie makers of his generation and released in 1983. It followed the life of a driver, Master Addy, who plied Accra and Kukurantumi, a town in the Eastern Region of Ghana (Kukurantumi is also the birth place of King Ampaw). He lost his job and had to move to Accra leaving behind his wife (Mary) and daughter (Abena).
Abena was in love with Bob (David Dontoh), a palmwine tapper against her father’s wishes. In the end, Bob and Abena came to Accra to find work. Bob, out of frustrations returned to Kukurantumi. Abena stayed in Accra, entering into a relationship with Mr. Mensah, a rich friend of her father (Abena had earlier declined to marry Mr. Mensah when her father proposed the idea). Her father stayed in Accra driving his lorry.
Apart from the relatable storyline- the challenges of family life- the movie was excellently produced. The picture quality was astounding- it was shot on celluloid. The dialogue and acting was great. One of the remarkable scenes about the film were the aerial shots. I was curious to know how that was done 33 years ago. Kukurantumi Road To Accra also sold you the landscape of Accra Central during that era-beautiful, well laid out with deep blue sea and clean shorelines. There is more that Ghanaian movie producers/directors can learn from these good old movies.
The advertised time for the screening was 6pm. But when I got there around 7pm, the funky professor, Kobby Graham was dropping some amazing tunes for the skeletal audience who were present. As the night wore on, many people-mostly within the arts circles in Accra- arrived at the venue. The audience present won’t be more than a hundred. Not disappointing judging by the fact that, there were other events across the city and also, this was the second installment in this series. It wasn’t only a night for watching (a) movies, but an opportunity for hobnobbing among those present.
This being my first time and gathering also that, the first screening drew not very many people, the organizers could take these pointers into account next time in promoting this good initiative.
1. They could invite some of the actors casted or the hands involved in the making of the movies they screen for a Q&A session (if these people are alive). Take for instance the movie screened, it would have been great to have David Dontoh present to share some thoughts on the making of the movie and how he landed that role considering the fact that he was a ‘small boy’. Even if they are dead or not around, a film historian can be invited to share some views on the movie(s).
2. Publicity must be enhanced and I was thrilled to find them taking information of people for a mailing list. With the many of those present active on various media platforms, it would be easier to send information out to friends, family and the rest of the world about the next event. Also, Africa Film Society can identify and or collaborate with some art biased blogs to promote their events in the future. Collaboration is key.
3. I would love to see a discussion on what the audience found interesting after a movie has been screened. Such discussions could be of educational value to both young film makers, film writers and everyone present.
4. It won’t be out of place for the organisers to get people living around the venue to attend the screening. From what I saw, it appeared the neighborhood was not ‘woke’ on what was going on. Classics In The Park, as I have indicated, is a community affair and getting them involved-they coming to be part of it-must be considered.
5. To the audience, please buy those merchandizes sold by Africa Film Society to sustain this initiative. There is a cost component in moving the gadgets used for screening and it is through buying these merchs that you can help cut down their cost. You can also contribute either with your time as a volunteer or in any other form by contacting them on their social media pages below.
For now, and based on what I saw, Classics In The Park is one of the best initiatives on the vibrant art scene in Ghana. The Africa Film Society is bringing to us-the young ones- some of the classic movies made by Ghanaian and African filmmakers whom we may not have known or seen. Every worthy cause deserves support.
As the Africa Film Society slogan say ‘Tell The Story Oh’.
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