Ghana missing at Fespaco despite Keteke nomination

By: Della Russel Ocloo
Keteke Ghana missing at Fespaco
Lydia Forson starred in Keteke

THE hope of some cast members of Ghanaian movie, Keteke, which opened the 2019 edition of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO), taking place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to be at the event has been dashed following their inability to secure funding.

Showbiz has gathered that while the French Embassy in Ghana provided a single return air ticket for use by a cast member, a request made to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture on behalf of the cast and crew by the Ghana Academy of Film and Television Arts (GAFTA), did not yield any positive results.

“When the Ministry got the letter they promised giving out sponsorship support letters because they did not have money to support by way of airfares, however, that did not come”, a source close to GAFTA told Showbiz.

Lydia Forson, who played a lead role in Keteke and had looked forward to attending the opening of the festival said in an interview on BBC’s Newsday programme on Tuesday that she was disappointed.

According to her, Keteke is the first Ghanaian movie to have done so well after Heritage Africa produced by the legendary Kwaw Ansah some 30 years ago.

She explained that for festivals such as Fespaco, the director or producer usually gets an invitation, while the cast members had to rely on sponsorship mostly from the state or corporate entities to attend.

“But this year, since the Government of Ghana is pushing the creative arts agenda, we were determined to make a statement. So we decided to go through the right processes by sending letters to the appropriate agencies seeking support," Lydia said.

She added that "many a times, politicians act differently from what they say they would do.

“The festival is 50 years so all nominated films have their countries' support and are organising all sorts of events to attract tourists and film funding.

"Our film is there with only the director and producer, although it attracted a large following after the opening but where are our people to leverage on that to draw co-productions into the country?" She queried.

Lydia also expressed regret at the growing decline of interest in the sector.

“Funding is a major issue when it comes to film as a lot of corporate entities are not ready to put their monies into the sector. There are a lot of people who make promises but do not keep to their words.

"At the end of the day, a lot of films produced in Ghana are often done through personal funding by individual producers”, she stated.

Similarly, the banking sector, she indicated, was unwilling to invest in the film industry despite its huge potential.

Lydia did not agree with assertions that the movie industry was collapsing, indicating that it was struggling like any other sector in Ghana.

She said while the movie industry had made some gains by moving away from a hobby to a point where actors are paid, the sector could still do better than it was currently doing.

Showbiz contacted the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Catherine Afeku who said they didn't have Fespaco on their budget.

"We normally will help them with letters and we have done that already. The last ones are gone already. We did letters for Kwaw Ansah and Nii Quartey to seek sponsorship and that is the extent of support we gave them.

"We read the budget and we did not incorporate that. We normally extend letters of sponsorship to them and they have gotten some support," she said.

Madam Afeku added that, "They left already and I know the guy from TV Africa left. There are about three of them and those are the only three people that brought letters that I saw and we responded and gave them letter of sponsorship to seek sponsors and they did successfully.

"With regards to the Keteke crew, even though they have been nominated, I didn’t get any sponsorship letter for them to go. I think that is the same letter Nii Quartey came with, I think they were led by Nii Quartey.

"I know him from TV Africa but I will rather wait and confirm the group he led because I remember he came with a man called Jojoo Grant They left for Burkina already."

Keteke, directed by Peter Sedufia is also competing for the Gold Standard of Yennenga, the overall best film category at the festival along with 20 other movies from 16 African countries.

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