The 9th edition of the CHALE WOTE Street Art festival kicked off with the Film Labs at the Museum of Science and Technology at Ridge, Accra. Under the breezy, glittering Accra night sky and with the hum of the city in the distance, patrons were treated to the work of film-makers from Ghana and beyond reflecting a myriad of life experiences through their lenses.
Nii Kwate Owoo’s 1970 classic, You Hide Me, set the tone for the LABs. The film was recorded in the secret vault of the British Museum in London and reveals a portion of over three thousand arts and artefacts looted by the British from various places in Africa, especially historical West African Kingdoms. The film was well-received by the audience, after being banned from public screening for almost half a century. When asked he will do something differently if he could go back in time, Nii Kwate responded “I will name the film You Can’t Hide Me.”
Dineo Seshee Bopape’s A Title Unknown At the Time of Production and Helel Smith’s Bottomless followed, touching on issues of rape, abuse of power and occultism in South Africa and Ghana respectively.
Kofi Richard screened his debut short film C’est l’Epoch, which centered on the variety of different cultural backgrounds and the beauty in diversity among Africans and Diasporans in The Netherlands.
Another film that recieved positive feedback from the audience is Jwhonjovouchor and the Yiii Kakai Voice of Waste Masks by Fofo Gavua. The film was based on the art and masks designs of artist Jwhonjovouchor, who uses waste materials to produce sculptors, masks and other creative pieces. The ingenuity of his art was one to behold and the applause at the end of the panel discussion captured everything the audience felt about his unique style of artistic expression.
The first day’s presentation ended with Hakeem Adam’s interview of Veteran artist Daniel Anum Jasper, titled Short Wave by Dandano. The interview delved into the life of the veteran artist and his work, which was mainly hand-painted film posters for cinema houses, and how he survives with his chosen medium in this age of digital printing. It was interesting to know that the artist still maintains a cult following of patrons and collectors in Europe and other parts of the world.
Day two started with The Robbery a film by Malaika Clements, Amina Daniels and Kameroun Lemon, a silent movie that provided comedic commentary of capitalism and the overpricing of products.
Adenike Oke’s The Secret Lives of G’s (SLOG) was the first of a trio of afrocentric films which centred on the struggles of black people in the diaspora. The film set in London highlight the struggles of five black young adults who live in the council estates and have to deal with negative stereotypes against people of their colour. Haven by Kelly Fyffe-Marshall followed, a short film on the intimacy shared between black girls and their mothers while their hair is braided. The short film certainly touched a nerve, with the audience visible touched by the emotional ending.
The marathon film for the evening Bounty by Rwandan Shyaka Kagame was about the lives of five different African immigrants in Switzerland and their difficulty in integrating into the Swiss society, coupled with the tension between their Africanness as a result of the birth and colour and their Swiss identity as a result of their naturalization.
Two other films in the evening centered on love. Kristen Calhoun’s Everything I whispered to Dorothy was the first to premier on the theme of love between black couples. Atovle by Ivorian Maureen Douabou focused on self-love and admiration of feminity. These two films were well received by the audience.
Nuotoma Bodomo’s film was one of the most striking of the night. The film, Afronauts, highlights the ingenuity of Africans and the alternate ways through which we understand and engineer space travel.
Va-Bene: Portrait of a Ghanaian artist by Brenda Akele Jorde gave insights into the struggle artist continue to encounter after dedicating their lives to creating and having to move with the negative and positive consequences of this affirmative action.
Chale Wote 2019 continues on Saturday, 17th August at the Museum of Science and Technology in Accra for the opening of the Shika Shika Art Fair.
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Article by Nii Komey and Fafa MacAuley
Images: Abdul Arafat and Obe Images