Africa Movie Academy Award Winner Set to Make North American Debut

Portrait of Akosua by Mantse Aryeequaye

Portrait of Akosua by Mantse Aryeequaye

The Huffington Post recently named Akosua Adoma Owusu “Most Promising Filmmaker” at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and one of the “Top 30 Black Contemporary Artists Under 40”. Her semi-autobiographical film, Kwaku Ananse has been winning awards of its own on the international stage this year. Now, both film and filmmaker are headed to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where Kwaku Ananse will make its North American debut.
Kwaku Ananse is one of a handful of shorts being featured in the program titled ‘To Repel Ghosts: Urban Tales from the African Continent’, which showcases remarkably uncanny and fiercely contemporary African stories.

Call For Papers | International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa


Theme: Oral Literature and Education

Deadline: October 15, 2013


The 10th Conference of the International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa (ISOLA) will take place at University of Cocody, Abidjan, Ivory Coast  on June 11-15, 2014. ISOLA is committed to the promotion of excellence in scholarship. Proposed papers should have a clearly defined thesis, show familiarity with research trends, and address the conference theme, highlighting Africa and the African diaspora. The working languages of ISOLA are English and French.
Abstracts should be of no more than 500 words, in both languages, bearing the author’s name, institutional affiliation and a brief bio.

For more than a century already, a formal system, originating in a more script-oriented and supposedly universal tradition, meant to open the way to more transcultural values, has been superimposed on this “traditional” oral education. This evolution comes with a challenge: how is it possible to open up to the world without abandoning the specific values at base of the identity of these societies with an oral tradition? How can we preserve this cultural originality by avoiding excessive acculturation?
By examining the question of a fundamental need for balance, certain teachers came to the conclusion that various aspects of the oral tradition could be fruitfully imported into the school system. Consequently, many school handbooks made room for folktales, proverbs, epic or oral poems. In fact, in “modern” education in Africa, from the primary to the tertiary level, an opening was made for the inclusion of the oral literature.

Avenues of “popular” education, originating in the contemporary context, have also been added to the more formal sectors of education. This is a complex phenomenon, and might take the shape of public policy or of a religious institution or national or international NGO initiative. This “popular” education operates within the frameworks of sanitation, health (the fight against the HIV-AIDS, for example), civic education, etc. The various actors involved choose sometimes the recourse to oral literature for a greater impact of their educational message.
Education of members of a community occupies pride of place in the heritage of the societies with oral traditions. Beyond the youth, the education in question targets individuals throughout the course of their lives.

The primary framework is that of the so-called “traditional” operation of  societies. This first context has known various genres which served the purpose of the ethical (transmission of moral values and behaviours), artistic (oral arts training) and practical (suitable community activities and the assorted social behaviours) training of users. The majority of these genres, including the more playful ones, often fulfil an educational function as well. Some target the entire community (the case of the “knowledge” genres, including the proverb, proposing a body of general ethics), while others (marriage and agricultural songs, for example) address a specific group.

This conference proposes that we think about “Oral Literature and Education” following three broad thematic areas.

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Kenyan Films at Durban International Film Festival 18 – 28 July 2013


Be sure to catch the 2013 Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in South Africa. With principal funding by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the festival returns for its 34th year to celebrate the beauty and diversity of global cinema. From 18 to 28 July, Durban will be illuminated by the glow of the silver screen, with over 250 screenings in 11 venues across the city. Alongside this smorgasbord of the best of contemporary cinema from around, comprising 72 feature films, 48 documentaries and 45 short films, the festival offers a comprehensive workshop and seminar programme that facilitates the sharing of knowledge and skills by film industry experts.

Running in parallel to the general Festival programme, this year’s Talent Campus Durban offers three hands-on training programmes: Doc Station which will focus on documentary-making, Talent Press which is dedicated to film criticism and Script Station which will foster story development. Although her films are not screening this year, Kenyan artist and filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii (Yellow Fever) is one of the candidates that was specially selected for this year’s Talent Campus.

The Kenyan films showing at the festival are:

Something Necessary (feature film)



Director: Judy Kibinge
Language: Swahili with English subtitles
Run Time: 85min
Germany, Kenya, 2013

Directed by Kenyan filmmaker Judy Kibinge and produced by German filmmaker Tom Tykwer, Something Necessary is the latest film from One Fine Day Films. The film chronicles an intimate moment in the lives of two people from very different sides of history. Anne is struggling to rebuild her life in the wake of the violence which swept through Kenya after the 2007 elections. Joseph, a troubled gang member who participated in the violence, is drawn to Anne, seemingly in search of redemption. Both of them need something that only the other can give in order to move beyond the painful memories of their pasts. For details of the screenings at DIFF, follow this link.

To learn more about the film, read Ciné Kenya‘s feature on it here.

Ni Sisi (feature film)



Director: Nick Reding
Language: Swahili with English subtitles
Run Time: 92min
Kenya, 2013

It’s Us (Ni Sisi) portrays a typical Kenyan community consisting of a harmonious muddle of tribes, intermarriages, and extended families. Then one day rumours begin to spread, mistrust suddenly takes hold and people are identified as belonging to a different tribe. Caught in this ripple effect, old friends begin to turn on each other and in a matter of days, the bonds and alliances that are the foundation of the community are severed. Despite its joyous vibrancy, It›s Us is a film that deals with vitally important issues, both in Kenya, still recovering from the violence of 2008, and beyond. For details of the screenings at DIFF, follow this link.

To learn more about the film, read Ciné Kenya‘s feature on it here.

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Award-Winning ‘Kwaku Ananse’ To Premiere in Ghana

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Kwaku Ananse’ has been making rounds on the international film scene and now the creative retelling of a fable about a part man part spider is finally making its way home to premiere in Ghana.

On Thursday, 4th July 2013, at 8pm, join AMAA award-winning film director, Akosua Adoma Owusu of Obibini Pictures, at one of Accra’s most notable venues, Alliance Française, for the screening of ‘Kwaku Ananse’.  Attendees of the premiere will have an opportunity to meet and greet the stars of the film, Koo Nimo and Grace Omaboe.  Guests will also enjoy an evening filled with Anansesem (spider tales) featuring a live music concert by the living legend Koo Nimo, Kyekyeku, and This House Is Not For Sale.

In her latest film, Kwaku Ananse, starring legendary Palm wine musician Koo Nimo, pioneering actress Grace Omaboe, and singer Jojo Abot; Owusu tells a unique and deeply personal story weaving it with a semi-autobiographical thread while preserving Ghanaian mythology.  ‘Kwaku Ananse’ was Ghana’s sole winning film at the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Awards where it was awarded the prize for Best Short Film.  In addition, to earning recognition at prestigious institutions around the world including Berlinale Film Festival, Cannes Short Film Corner, and most recently at the French Film Academy’s Golden Nights Panorama program for the World’s Best Short Films of the year.


KWAKU ANANSE Gets Nomination at 2013 African Movie Academy Awards


Akosua Adoma Owusu, Ghanaian director and writer of the acclaimed short film Kwaku Ananse (which Ciné Kenya featured here), is thrilled to have her first narrative short nominated by the Africa Movie Academy Awards. “At its inception, I struggled to find a Ghanaian audience that would value our traditional story in contemporary cinema,” says Owusu, “it’s truly humbling Kwaku Ananse received the AMAA nomination. “

Kwaku Ananse was commissioned by Focus Features, as part of their prestigious Africa First Award Program, and supported by the Sarah Jacobson Grant, Art Matters grant, and a well-received IndieGogo Campaign.  The short film is a re-telling of the classic West African fable with a semi-autobiographical twist, featuring her uncle, Ghana’s legendary palm wine musician, Koo Nimo as Kwaku Ananse. Owusu received this award after gaining international attention with her short films, Drexciya and Me Broni Ba, as well as from her work within the art world at the famed Studio Museum in Harlem. Me Broni Ba, specifically, screened at over 80 international film festivals and was later acquired for distribution by The Cinema Guild.


Photo credit: Yaanom Multimedia

Combined with the unique co-production efforts of acclaimed Mexican producer, Julio Chavezmontes (Sundance New Frontier “Halley”) and Lisa Cortes (Executive Producer for Academy Award Winning “Precious”), Kwaku Ananse premiered in competition at the prestigious Berlinale Film Festival, as part of the Golden Bear competition, and was met with rave reviews.   Says the Guardian Nigeria,

“If Nollywood was absent at the Berlinale, Ghana was not. Akosua Adoma Owusu gave Ghana something to cheer about at the Berlinale.”

View trailer:

Between travelling internationally to screen her acclaimed works, and hustling to acquire the funding needed to propel everything forward, Owusu is working hard to both further her own dreams and inspire other African filmmakers that they, too, can do the same. Recently awarded the Most Promising Filmmaker prize at Ann Arbor Film Festival and named in the Huffington Post of “Top 30 Black Contemporary Artists Under 40”, she’s certainly paving the way to do both and is thrilled that Kwaku Ananse, is preserving a piece of Ghanaian mythology and is being so well-received by international audiences.

Contact: Sumie Garcia


Photo credit: Yaanom Multimedia

Oya: Rise of the Orisha


Oya: Rise of the Orishas, takes a pantheon of ancient West African deities, known as Orisha, and resurrects them as modern day superheroes in a new action packed film. We focus on a young woman named Adesuwa who has the unique ability to transform into the fearsome warrior goddess, Oya, the Orisha of change. When she does, she gains amazing powers.

Oya: Rise of the Orishas is London-based writer and director Nosa Igbinedion‘s unique resurrection of mythical deities from African folklore, into modern day superheroes in Britain. Get involved in getting this incredible and unique project off the ground here.

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Spider Stories: African Fantasy Adventure of a Quest to Reclaim a Throne.

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Spider Stories follows the tale of Princess Zahara who goes into hiding after the royal family is overthrown by a corrupt neighboring kingdom. Armed with a mystical staff, the fearless princess embarks on quest to reconnect with the spirits, reunite her homeland, and reclaim the throne. Help fund this amazing project here.

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Kwaku Ananse: Film Breathes Life Into Old West African Fable

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Kwaku Ananse, 2013
25 mins
Nominated for Golden Bear, Berlinale Shorts

Ghana I Love You did an excellent feature on Ghanaian-American Akosua Adoma Owusu‘s short film “Kwaku Ananse”. Owusu wrote and directed the film which will make it’s World Premiere on February 12th at the 63rd Berlinale Film Festival.

The film is a creative retelling of a West African fable about wisdom which draws upon the rich mythology of Ghana. Owusu puts her unique stamp on the story by weaving semi-autobiographical elements with the tale of Kwaku Ananse, a trickster in West African stories who appears as both spider and man making the story deeply personal.

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