THE Country Manager of Silverbird Cinemas Ghana, Funmi Onuma, has debunked negative perception that Ghanaian films are of ‘low grade’ and not favourably competitive.
According to the country manager who was speaking with Graphic Showbiz on patronage of the cinemas after its reopening in July last year, the erroneous perception has gained roots because of poor sponsorship and lack of investment in the film sector.
She pointed out that the vibrancy of other film industries had been made possible by rich investments by governments and corporate entities and expressed the hope to see such support for Ghanaian movie productions.
“It’s never true that Ghanaian movies are of low quality or grade and the industry is dying. At least, the number of quality Ghanaian movies premiered at Silverbird Cinemas since the reopening of the cinemas in July last year is proof of that.
“However, what the industry is lacking is the right sponsorship and investment. There’s no way a good script can be well interpreted without a good production and that comes with money.
“But here in Ghana, that support is not so strong and so film producers have no choice than to finance their projects with their own budget.
"I really wish that the corporate institutions will see the need to invest in the film industry since the industry is showing lots of promise,” she said.
President Nana Akufo Addo announced opening of cinemas in July last year but the cinemas, including Silverbird, started full operation and occupancy in March this year.
Movies premiered at Silverbird Cinemas since reopening include Aloe Vera, Coming to Africa, Drops of Happiness, Galamsey, God is African, Happy Surprise, Red Carpet, Savannah, Shemale, Terminus, The men we love, The Return of Jamal, Till Sunset and Tito.
Ms Funmi Onuma mentioned The Men We Love, Happy Surprise and Red Carpet as the top three Ghanaian movies premiered at Silverbird.
“These movies had huge patronage and if truly Ghanaian movies were of low grade, they wouldn’t have recorded such high figures.
"Content wise, Ghanaian movies are changing, the storylines are changing towards real life issues that the common Ghanaian can relate to.
"We just need to believe in our abilities and not condemn all the potentials the industry is showing, “she added.
The devastating effects on COVID-19 on various sectors of the economy cannot be over emphasised. With the creative industry being one of the badly hit, cinemas were not spared of its brazen effects.
Recounting the losses of Silverbird Cinemas, Ms Funmi Onuma disclosed the cinema lost over $20M in value during the period.
She mentioned that the business is still on recovery mode since the pandemic caused a major setback including having some of their equipment for operation locked up for many months.
“Due to COVID-19, the cinema industry had a huge setback because the factories we get our equipment from were closed in China and theatres were not allowed to sell their products.
"At one point, products were not even ready to be released onto the market because there were no workers to install the equipment.
"Most of our products are still in stock and are yet to be sold, causing the industry to suffer greatly,” she noted.
Despite the pressing challenges, Funmi noted that Silverbird Cinemas was preparing to have a fruitful celebration of its 13 years of operation in Ghana.
“We are 13 years in Ghana by November so we have come a long way in supporting the industry to the best we can and hope for more collaborations in future. Again, we are looking at expanding to other locations which is in the pipeline,” she said.