Film
Joseph Otisman and Cynthia Dankwa as Kojo and Esi. Photo by Ofoe Amegavie via 'The Burial of Kojo's' Kickstarter page.

In Conversation: The Cast & Crew of 'The Burial of Kojo' On Representation, Power & Filming in Ghana

We catch up with the minds and faces behind Blitz the Ambassador's 'The Burial of Kojo.'

After the success of Black Panther, Get Out and Moonlight, critics have said that production companies are finally realizing the importance of producing major motion pictures about black life and the African diaspora. But that's flawed. Not only does it give too much credit to production companies that give these movies the green light, it also denies that filmmakers of color have always wanted to tell these stories—and that most already do, but it rarely makes it to the mainstream or Oscars.

A more accurate statement is that movies about black life and the diaspora exist, many more yearn to be made and they are thankfully getting more visibility and love than before. Right now, more than ever, inclusive and intersectional storytelling is necessary to the fabric of our humanity and understanding of how to live more compassionate lives.

Blitz the Ambassador, the musician, writer, director and artist who crowdsourced and created his first full feature film in under a few years, released The Burial of Kojo for limited viewing last month. It's amazing and inspiring that a film of this magnitude was funded by eager fans and hopefuls, but bringing this story to life is more intricate than we will ever comprehend.

From the narrative to the production and Ghanaian cultural complexities, The Burial of Kojo is an essential addition to the conversation on black filmmaking in the Trump era—especially in a nation where films about Africa typically involve war, poverty and despair.

The Burial of Kojo follows Kojo, a man who is tormented by the guilt of accidentally killing his brother, Kwabena's, wife. Kwabena seeks revenge years later by pushing Kojo into an abysmal pit. It is up to his wife and intuitive daughter to try and save him before time runs out.

We spoke with Blitz, cinematographer Michael Fernandez, lead actor Joseph Otisman and lead actress Cynthia Dankwa about the responsibility of African filmmaking, method acting, cultural values about the afterlife and—eating bugs.

Light spoilers ahead—but don't worry, we left out all the pivotal moments in the film for you to experience in time.

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News Brief

Watch the Trailer for 'Number 37'—South African Filmmaker Nosipho Dumisa's Hitchcock-Inspired Thriller

The film is set to screen in U.S. theaters soon.

From just watching the trailer alone, South African filmmaker Nosipho Dumisa's Number 37 is a Alfred Hitchcock tribute you didn't know you needed. The thriller is due to make its theatrical release in the U.S. soon, Shadow and Act reports.

The film premiered in South Africa in June, along with a screening at this year's SXSW Film Festival.

Number 37 pays homage to Hitchcock's Greenwich Village-set Rear Window, but this time the film focuses on residents living in an apartment block in the Cape Flats.

Here's the synopsis:

Set in a rough section of Cape Town, 'Number 37' follows Randal Hendricks, a small-time crook who becomes wheelchair-bound in a drug deal gone wrong, and his hard-working girlfriend Pam Ismael. To distract Randal during his homebound days of limited mobility, Pam gives him a pair of binoculars. While idly surveying his block, he accidentally witnesses a dirty cop being executed by his gangster neighbor Lawyer. With a loan shark breathing down his neck, Randal decides to blackmail Lawyer, and enlists the help of both his girlfriend and his friend Warren. When the plan goes horribly awry, Randal's options get more and more restricted—and not even local detective Gail February, investigating the death of her partner, may be able to help him.
Watch the trailer here or below.

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