You cannot skip the magnetism of Fiona Worlanyo Aku Ansah in a discussion about young Ghanaian filmmakers doing it ever so passionately and bringing in refreshing perspectives to the burgeoning film game in Africa. The creative director at Purpleheart Pictures and award-winning indie filmmaker discloses; “Over time, I’ve just learned to improve myself and the kind of films I make.”
SHOOT OR BE SHOT
Fiona is one of the many talents working in and around urban Accra, shooting films, documentaries, and corporate events. Bεnpaali Young Filmmakers Festival and Legon International Film Event (LIFE) are two of the very few fora or support platforms for young film artists, aside Accra Francophone Film Festival which awarded Worlanyo Ansah for her production, Dear Valentine.
Chinua Achebe calls storytellers a ‘threat’. “They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit.” Fiona believes that the artist plays a vital role in every society and is responsible for promoting and preserving culture as well as entertaining and educating the public through art forms in whichever possible way. “I love what I do and I do it (especially film) because for me it’s one of the best ways I can express myself and impact the world positively. I usually find inspiration from real life situations especially social ones. I feed off news items but sometimes imagination. I am a film school graduate from NAFTI and I have about 3 yrs experience in film-making.”
THE FILM BILL
There are a number of film organizations includung Ghana Actors Guild (GAG), Film Producers Association (FIPAG) Ghana Academy of Film and Television Arts (GAFTA), Women in Film and Television, Collective Management Organization of Audio Rights Owners (ARSOG), Film Managers Association of Ghana and Film Crew Association of Ghana. Yet, there is no clear unified front demanding the voice of the stakeholders in the film industry in parliament.
Ms. Dzifa Gomashie, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, as well as a former industry player herself, said in an interview with The Ghanaian Times that, “the bill, if passed into law, would not be the panacea to all the flaws in the industry but would serve as a means to regulate and demand the best from practitioners.”
Chairman of the NAFTI Board, Professor Kofi Anyidoho, keeps elucidating that the motion picture industry is critical to the arts industry and must be treated with all the seriousness it deserves, but how far have we employed tact in that direction? Fiona addresses the situation by saying, “In my opinion, the Ghanaian film industry is still struggling since there aren’t any proper well-defined structures for the industry as compared to other art scenes like the music industry. But the film industry has so much potential and even more should the Film Bill be passed.” I’d point out that this is very true, but more importantly should the concerns of the stakeholders be implemented.
FILM SCHOOL AND TOOLS
Fiona appreciates the impact that film school has had on her career and helped her “appreciate films better”. “It also helped me explore the true art of film-making hence my undying thirst to produce films with quality pictures, sound, editing and all that a good film has to offer.”
About the significance of particular social spaces in her work, Fiona explains; “social spaces are used as and when needed. Every filmmaker chooses specific locations per their script. For “Dear Valentine“, I needed the public toilet and I got it. I didn’t struggle too much to get the place.
“NORMAL IS BORING”
“I’ve had overwhelming responses, even though I am still a bit skeptical about it because I know it could be better in terms of picture quality, sound and editing. The superpower I’d wish for myself is super strength. I have lots of dream projects but for now, I’ll say a powerful story on the history of Ghana. I’d love to work with Ousmane Sembene, Abderrahmane Sissako and Kathryn Bigelow in future.”
Fiona’s favourite place to tap in inspiration is “anywhere quiet, serene and full of life.” She as well loves traveling. She always looks happy and is about results, and even as she opens up about a thorn in her past- “the strongest memory of my childhood is when I saw my dad abusing my mum,” it doesn’t restrain her focus. “A good advice to myself is to stand for what I believe in and never give up. My goal is to be one of the best and most celebrated female film director in the world and to touch the world through my films. To all upcoming artists, I’ll say believe in yourself. You can achieve all your dreams. Just be original and different. Normal is boring.”