The CODESRIA African Humanities Institute Programme and the University of Ghana Legon are pleased to inform you that the 6th Real Life Documentary Film Festival will be held in Accra, Ghana, on 1- 4 October 2011. The Executive Producer of this year’s edition of the Festival is Professor Kofi Anyidoho, Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies, University of Ghana Legon, and member of the Executive Committee of CODESRIA. The festival is an initiative of K’a yelema Productions, in partnership with New York University, CODESRIA African Humanities Institute Programme, Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies - University of Ghana, National Film & Television Institute-Accra, the French Embassy-Accra.
The Real Life Documentary Festival was launched on May 20, 2006 as “an annual film festival dedicated to documentary films based on the histories, peoples, heroes, cities and locations of African and diasporic African communities. The event brought together filmmakers, scholars, students and film enthusiasts to one of the greatest historic Pan-African cities in the world – Accra.” That inaugural event was understandably modest, but it was expected that Real Life would grow to become “the continent’s major initiative and forum for the production, cataloging and exhibition of documentary film records of African and African-diasporic subjects in global history.” Thanks to the unfailing dedication of its initiators, and the institutional support of New York University, Prince Claus Foundation, the French Embassy, the Goethe Institut, CODESRIA African Humanities Institure Programme, Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies, and other partners, RealLife is moving closer and closer to the realization of that initial dream.
It is a delight to see that from the 2006 maiden edition, the Accra RealLife Documentary Festival has recorded enthusiastic reception from a wide range of people. The very rich program being offered this year and from a careful choice of film makers across the African global community, suggests that much more significant creative work is being done in the area of documentary films than we are likely to be aware of. What is needed now is a reliable and credible platform on which African and African-heritage documentaries can come together annually for dialogue and a sharing of visions and techniques.
The 2011 RealLife festival offers an enticing choice of films. Beyond the screening, RealLife is also offering an invaluable service to the film industry in Africa with its master classes to be given by distinguished guest directors/technicians. Other valuable aspects of the program include an increasing emphasis on archival workshops especially dedicated to the restoration and preservation of films.
The Real Life Documentary Festival is proud to announce two key partnerships that are crucial for its audience building efforts. The first concerns a better coordination with the Theatre Arts Department at University of Ghana, Legon and the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) in Accra. By involving these two historic institutions of theater, film, video and design, the festival insures a regular and enthusiastic interest in its programs.
Another important partnership involves the AiD African Film Series of Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra, which is spearheaded by Joe Osae Addo, architect, and the Golden Tulip Hotel management in Ghana. The monthly film series curated by RealLife and AiD African Film Series at Golden Tulip Accra will help in building a solid cinephilic tradition in the city and provide hotel guests with access to some of the best films in Africa. We are very excited about the potential of audience development provided by these two initiatives.
There is no doubt that the dynamism of Ghanaian cultural workers, such as Kofi Anyidoho (Univ. of Ghana) and Joe Osae Addo will take the festival far, in terms of local and international prestige and reputation.
The 6th Edition of the RealLife Documentary Film Festival opens in Accra against the background of some significant recent developments. The Ministry of Information has recently forwarded to Cabinet a bill that is intended to define a new direction and healthier opportunities for the development of the film industry in Ghana. The 3rd CODESRIA @ Fespaco Workshop on African Cinema/Film/Video held in Ouagadougou in March 2011 generated a great deal of excitement among participants as they addressed a wide range of issues and possibilities under the theme African Film , Video & the Social Impact of New Technologies. Important changes are taking place at the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI), giving a strong indication that effective training for a new generation of film makers is indeed a goal that could be realized in the near future. In the meantime, private initiative in film production is very much on the increase. As recently as September 21st 2011, we witnessed the Executive/Press Premiere of The Destiny of Lesser Animals, by American director Deron Albright but shot in Ghana with an all Ghanaian cast and crew. One reviewer describes it as “a Ghanaian thriller that goes beyond the genre to become a work of art”. Most importantly, Ghana’s premiere film maker, Kwaw Ansah, is at this very moment on the set doing the shoot of the third episode of his projected 12-part series The Good Old Days, the first two having already played to very enthusiastic applause all over the country. These are all very positive signs indeed. And we are hopeful that the 2011 edition of the Accra RealLife Documentary Film Festival will consolidate the gains made by the first five editions. It is therefore with high optimism and great expectations that we welcome our guest film makers and critics and our audiences to the various screenings and workshops. And we thank our various sponsors for making it possible for us and for the future of film in Ghana, in Africa.
Kofi Anyidoho, University of Ghana
Legon. September 22, 2011.