As the Black Star International film institute readies for this year’s Black Star International film festival, we say thank you to all our partners and all stakeholders for your support as we enter our fourth year.
Your engagement is key in working with the festival to ensure relevance to all players. We welcome the increasing engagement of industry and a number of overwhelming suggestions from industry, all aimed towards ensuring that the Black Star International film festival continues to help create the ecosystem in which the Ghanaian film Industry may continue to thrive.
BSIFF has a culture of engagement and consultation and we are constantly reassessing our strategies where necessary. We assure all stakeholders that all suggestions are taken under serious consideration by the board and team and where appropriate, steps may be initiated to close identified gaps, to serve the overall interest of all stakeholders and ensure the ultimate health of the organization. We therefore ask all stakeholders to remain patient and continue to engage with the festival on an ongoing basis.
BSIFF also takes this opportunity to clarify gaps in understanding and inform stakeholders of progress made so far, in consultation with key stakeholders.
THE VISION OF THE FESTIVAL
As our goals stated on our website, the Black Star International film Festival is focused on connecting the world to African Cinema, creating global connections through film and focused on the business of film.
Fueled by our vision, BSIFF focuses its advocacy work on sensitizing stakeholders to gaps and possible strategies for growth. We work to promote industry friendly policies and best practices. Indeed, working with a number of key partners, including the Busac fund, we have channeled a significant portion of our limited resources into advocating for:
1) The promotion of Ghana as a film location for destination shoot and making Ghana a co-production hub. Reiterating the need for a deliberate strategy to position Ghana as a film hub within the region by –
(a) Advocating for the adoption of film treaties with friendly countries.
(b) The exploration and possible introduction of Tax treaties
(c) In-depth research on sector needed to help direct strategies appropriately
This call was made after the festival committed a significant portion of its resources towards research into global best practices. The benefits of this approach is amply demonstrated by countries like South Africa that has film treaties with over 40 countries. The resulting findings has been shared with key stakeholders, including Government.
APPEAL TO GOVERNMENT
We continue to advocated with some significant progress, that Ghana films be screened at all Ghana embassies around the world.
See communication by the ministry of Communication in support of this advocacy initiative attached.
We continue to work to ensure that Ghana recognizes the value in such a policy as this may help significantly with the branding of Ghana, attracting and informing the potential traveler and investor and also help push opportunities for Ghanaian filmmakers.
The theme for BSIFF2018 was ‘film as a tool for national development’. The Yaa Asantewa awards focused on the Ghanaian filmmaker in the non-competitive category. Out of the 5 winners in 2018, 4 winners, were filmmakers from Ghana. Pascal Aka’s corruption and Clef lip by Erik Knudsen were amongst the big winners on the awards night.
MAKING SPACE FOR THE GHANAIAN FILM MAKER ON THE WORLD STAGE
Ghanaian Films like Nakom made it to the opening film slot of the festival. Other Ghanaian films may have declined similar opportunities given to them by the festival over the years; whiles films like Comfort Arthur’s ‘Black Barbie’ have won in categories dominated by international films, demonstrating conclusively that the Ghanaian filmmaker given the right environment may rise to competitive heights internationally.
For four (4) years in a row, Ghanaian filmmakers have been encouraged to submit by hand and all submissions by Ghanaian filmmakers are free. All other filmmakers submit at fee and online.
It is important to note the significant resources we dedicate to creating platforms like our symposiums that create opportunities for Ghanaian filmmakers to engage, network and speak up on key issues of relevance to industry.
CREATING BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL PLAYERS
BSIFF18 introduced the BSIFF FILM-MARKET, which is a critical platform for the business of filmmakers. It is our hope that Ghanaian filmmakers will take advantage of the platform to do business and further address key issues around policy and best practices.
MAINTAINING STANDARDS OF INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS
As we continue to help generate the ecosystem, it is also important that we keep the credibility of the festival at the forefront of our strategy by adhering to standards accepted globally. This will ensure that the Ghanaian filmmaker, remains the utmost beneficiary by:
1) Ensuring respect and credibility for filmmakers that compete fairly.
2) Help create motivation for filmmakers to ensure adequate production values
3) Open the door for Ghanaian filmmakers to submit to other film festivals competitively
4) Help position Ghana as a credible film festival location and attract the filmmakers needed to collaborate with the Ghanaian filmmaker.
THE ROLE OF THE FESTIVAL
A thriving ecosystem as facilitated by the festival will help create the opportunity to:
A) Attract Foreign Direct Investment from co-productions and location destination
B) Help skills transfers
C) Job creation for the youth in Ghana, as film sets open up big opportunities for employment
D) The millions of dollars that Ghana can attract from film tourism if Ghana successfully positions itself as a hub will significantly impact the entire economy of Ghana.
THE FOUNDING VISION OF THE FESTIVAL
The Black Star International Film Festival was founded by Ms Juliet Yaa Asantewa Asante, who herself being a filmmaker, understands intimately the struggles of the Ghanaian filmmaker. Having engaged with film festivals globally Ms. Asante brings to the table a keen appreciation for both the unique gaps the Ghanaian filmmaker faces; precipitated by the lack of global opportunities and engagement with global trends.
The lack of investments into the sector and the lack of backing of policy fosters a challenging environment for the Ghanaian filmmaker, especially as neighboring countries continue to invest insignificantly contrary to local conditions. The festival continuously works to close gaps for the Ghanaian filmmaker.
Despite the heavy resource challenge, the sometimes very unfriendly terrain, the festival has not veered away from its primary goals and objectives and has formulated strategies focused only on the ultimate good for the Ghanaian filmmaker. The strategy to first gain international credibility and progressively work to close gaps has proven a valuable strategy.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE GHANAIAN PLAYER
The Ghanaian filmmaker must take their place by adequately engaging with the festival. The Ghanaian filmmaker must take the ultimate responsibility of self education and engagement as is the practice all over the world.
As the world shows up at our doorstep, we must be ready to open the door and not wait for a stranger to open your door. You cannot be invited to open the door to your own bedroom.
FILM FESTIVAL AS A NATIONAL POLICY
Berlinale became the second largest festival and with one of the largest film market ‘the European film market’ through the support of the German Government, the German filmmaker and German people who pay year after year and attend the festival, understanding the importance of the festival to Berlin and Germany at large. Research shows that out of every dollar the Government invests in the film festival, it gets 5 times the investment back through:
1) Film tourism subsequent economic boost 2) Business opportunities
4) Jobs creation
5) Skills transfer
The Black Star International film Festival will continue to diligently work towards ensuring that the Ghanaian filmmaker rises up to compete on the global landscape.
We have noted with some excitement, the increased participation of the local sector in recent years and note appropriately the need to re-evaluate and realign ongoing strategies.
AN IMPORTANT ADDENDUM
As captured by an old Chinese saying – the strategy of the festival is focused on helping the Ghanaian filmmaker develop the skills of fishing… feeding the filmmaker fish is a very short term strategy..
The Black Star International Film Festival remains committed primarily to ensuring that the Ghana film sector rises to compete competitively on the world stage, to ensure that both the sector and ultimately, Ghana, remains the winner.
– The Black Star International Film Festival team
Juliet Asante Founding President