OPENING SPEECH BY THE BLACK STAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen. This evening, we welcome over 28 countries into Ghana and to the festival.

One year comes quickly. Last year, we explored in our minds how film can be a tool for national development. As a tool it can open up employment opportunities for the many young people who may be interested in all manner of jobs on a film set. From a Capenter to a doctor to a writer and actor to a designer and electrician, to a lawyer… I can go on. We imagined that films could bring in some much needed foreign investment into the country, if the environment was made attractive to encourage more co Productions to happen In Ghana. We touched on how this could go further to help sell and brand Ghana to bring in more Tourist into the country who will also spend hard currency in Ghana. We imagined seeing our beautiful castles and waterfalls and people on big and small screens around the world…

But not only did we imagine, we got to work. In collaboration with the National Film and Television Institute and with the help of our advocacy partner, Busac, we set out to help define a clear path towards making this dream a reality. Let me tell you some of the good things that have happened in just one year.

Working together with the Ministry of Foriegn affairs, the Black Star International Film institute has in conjunction with the National film and television institute made a commitment to show Ghanaian content at all Ghanaian missions around the world. Starting small, the goal is to with time, ensure that Ghanaian missions around the the world, serve as appropriate first points to start the selling process. This means that the visitor to the Ghanaian mission whiles sitting in the lobby, must get a first taste of what it is like to visit and or do business in Ghana by watching something on the screen that informs, educated and even entertain. Filmmakers have magnanimously agreed to provide content for free to the Ghana Governement to help roll out this initiative. We say a special thank to the filmmakers who have made this commitment and to the Ministry for immediately seeing the value in this one action and We call on the Government of Ghana to therefore hasten to the implementation of this commitment.

The Black Star International film Festival also set out to Cannes. The largest film festival in the world, to make a pitch on Ghana’s readiness to be welcome filmmakers and investors. We followed on to the US to try and understand the Atlanta case and how they were able to last year alone, make over 10billion dollars from film.

It became very clear, that Ghana needs to get working. We are way behind when it comes to what other countries are doing to entice the filmmaking community. Ghana already has the locations, beautiful forts, castles and waters, skilled labor. Nafti has been seeing to that for over 40 years.

However, Two most important gaps remain. Ghana needs to have a Film Authority and or Commision and Ghana needs to pass policy incentives that attract investments. We call on the Government of Ghana to take this step with urgency.

South Africa has a 30% tax rebate, Morocco has 25%, Atlanta has over 30% and Canada which has just taken over as the leading film country has almost 40%… thankfully, we have a Governement that has demonstrated its openness to working with us towards this goal.

Today we call on the Government of Ghana to hasten to set up the film Authority and to pass a 30% tax rebate system to help attract film productions into Ghana. A 30% tax rebate will jumpstart and leapfrog our position as a film friendly country and the return on investment will be palpable. Not only do we have amazing stories to tell as a country and as a continent – after-all, in the last two years alone, big studios have made Big money on African themed stories. The recent case is the lion king, grossing over 1billion dollars in its first week alone.

Can we not position ourselves to have a piece of the cake just by moving with the times a little? We can not have a slice of the pie if we don’t set up a film authority and give tax incentives. As they say, follow the money!

We want to take the opportunity to congratulate the year of return team for doing a good job and bringing in all the stars, but how about going a step further and inviting them to shoot scenes and films here and working with the locals to transfer skills and grow the sector? Won’t that be some real value to our dollar thirsty economy? We are happy to have the support of the Ghana commercial bank for this year’s festival…

we go further to throw a challenge to the banking sector to work with sector to develop a facility targeted at industry. Imagine that you were the bank that helped to structure and fund the Black panther or lion king or the next Yaa Asantewa story. Imagine what that could mean. It is time to think deep about the low hanging Fruits we are walking past. Content they say is the new oil… not real estate, not oil… but content! And for content to happen, we need money. We need both loans and equity investments

I can not go on without a particular mention of our Nigerian brothers and sisters just 45 minutes away. The second largest film industry in the world. despite having its own issues, nigeria has taken steps to secure some funding for filmmakers and are working delightedly to provide critical employment to Nigerians through the sector. Already, nollywood contributes over 7 billion to Nigeria’s GDP. It will be good to know some figures from Ghana as well. This is another call we make on government to invest into a study that maps out how much The film sector contributes to GDP. Perhaps then we won’t be so hesitant to make the needed investments into the sector.

Ghana and Nigeria needs to work together more within this space and this is why we are happy to welcome into Ghana, the Commisioner for the Nigerian film Commision with the hope of exploring a treaty between Ghana and Nigeria. Perhaps we could bring our energies together and make a pitch to the world? At the very least, let’s work together more and sell to our two countries. Together we are speaking of over 250 diverse people wanting rich content.

In the next week, you will see filmmakers from Ghana, from Africa and from the world, show their work. Let’s take time to appreciate what filmmakers do under very challenging conditions and let’s take a minute to consider the possibilities and opportunities we have to work with filmmakers to help fill much needed gaps.

Let’s have some hard talk and next steps. We expect some real outcomes from this year’s festival. Business deals, Governement policy initiatives announcements perhaps, funding initiatives inter Alia. This and more conversations will be happening at our panel sessions on Thursday

Let’s enjoy the week and the many events carefully selected to ensure that we meet the right people as well as have some much needed fun for afterall, this is entertainment business.

Let’s explore the synergies between music and film, at the black Star music concert happening on Friday.

We take the bold step to launch the initiative to work with Government, the sector and the people of Ghana and we pronounce Ghana a film hub

Let the dreams of our ancestors, join hands with the vision of this generation to move our descendants to the promise of paradise that only film can help create.

Thank you and have a good evening

Juliet Yaa Asantewa Asante

– Founding President

#julietasante #yaamusings #bsifilmfestival #bsiff #bsiff19 #africancinema #Africanfilmfestival #ghanafilms


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s