Vice-President John Mahama
THE government has set aside GHC 2 million to support players in the Ghanaian film industry, as part of efforts to engender a cinema of substance that makes serious inroads into the global market of film and television.
Vice-President John Mahama, who announced this at an awards ceremony to climax week-long lectures of the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) in Accra on Friday, said he would meet the professional associations in the industry in the course of the week, to discuss modalities for disbursing the money.
The countryâ€™s film industry, made up of small independent producers who are mostly under-capitalised, is not well organised to take a significant stake in the world film market and according to NAFTI, the time has come for the industry to move beyond simply being petty enterprises.
Aimed at recognising excellent works of pioneers in the movie industry and celebrating cross-cultural collaboration between Ghana and Germany, the awards ceremony witnessed the honour of an icon in Ghanaian film making-King Ampaw-who was the celebrant of this yearâ€™s NAFTI lectures.
Against the backdrop of criticism of the substance of content and the lack of professionalism in a vibrant movie industry developing in Ghana, the organisers said they were celebrating King Ampaw â€śbecause he has the level of excellence in film making that we want our younger generation of film makers to emulate.â€ť
Other awardees were Kofi Middleton Mends, Martin Loh, Professor Peter Bringmann (Deputy Rector, Media Arts Academy, Cologne, Germany), while H.H. Hemans Mensah and J.G.Y. Ata-Donto of blessed memory, were awarded posthumously.
Vice-President Mahama noted that the creative industry had the capacity to employ hundreds of thousands of people and make some self-employed and indicated the commitment of the government to expand the budget for the industry.
Rather than having splinter groups among players in the industry, Mr. Mahama advised that a united front would make it easier for government support.
He was appalled that after so many years, work on the NAFTI studio complex was at a standstill and gave the assurance that he would make it a personal mission to ensure its completion besides spearheading a campaign for the construction of a multi-complex and studio for NAFTI.
Presenting the award, comprising a special certificate and a plaque to a fragile King Ampaw, the Vice-President described the man, who has produced, directed and acted in many films notably Nana Akoto/Juju (1985); Kukurantumi-Road to Accra (1983); No time to die (2007); and Cobra Verde (1987), as â€śa very great person.â€ť
Vice-President Mahama observed that from the early beginnings of King Ampaw and other film makers/actors, the Ghanaian movie industry was at the forefront in Africa but was overwhelmed later by Nigeria.
He was, however, happy that the industry in Ghana had caught up quite well in recent times with a new generation of film makers with quality pictures, sounds and background music.
He expressed the governmentâ€™s gratitude to the German government whose support to NAFTI over the year, through the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and later the Goethe Institute and the KHM (Media Arts Academy of Cologne), had helped in making the institute what it was today.
Shortly after receiving his award, King Ampaw, who has earned several awards in the national and international arena, declared that the recognition would have been a prelude to winding up his career of over 45 years in film making.
Signalling his intention to come out with one more movie, he said â€śbut my work will be incomplete until I brought to the fore, the film about Kwame Nkrumah, the son of Africa.â€ť
For the past two years, he, together with Professor Akilagkpa Sawyer, who chaired the Nkrumah centenary planning committee, Prof. Kofi Awoonor, Chairman of the Council of State, Reverend Chris Hesse, Nkrumahâ€™s photographer and Fritz Baffour, Minister Designate of Information, had been working to develop the project.
To be able to realise the dream of bringing the film unto the screens, King Ampaw appealed for moral and financial support from the government, philanthropists, and Africans in general.
Earlier, Professor Linus Abraham, Rector of NAFTI catalogued the challenges facing NAFTI, especially with the onset of digital technology and prayed for attention and government support if the institute was to serve as the springboard to the countryâ€™s ability to exploit the creative arts for socio-economic development.
â€śOur subvention from government is constantly cut, and we never have the resources to engineer the kind of infrastructural development to bring NAFTI crucially into the digital age,â€ť he lamented.