Feature Films: Ghana (Independence to 2000)

The photo above is from King Ampaw’s NO TIME TO DIE (2006)

As elsewhere across Africa, pioneering, locally-produced feature films were made by European filmmakers. In Ghana, which gained independence in 1957, early post-independence films include two by English directors: Sean Graham’s “The Boy Kummusenu” (1960) and Terry Bishop’s “Tungo Hamile” (a version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1965). Early Ghanaian feature filmmakers — those that have been documented so far — started producing work in the late 1960s. And as elsewhere across Africa, most early indigenous titles are not readily accessible to audiences.

In some cases, copies have been uploaded to video-sharing platforms like YouTube.

Here are a few, starting in 1968 with Sam Aryteetey’s “No Tears for Ananse” — quite possibly the earliest work by an indigenous Ghanaian filmmaker — and ending in the late 1990s, before the tech boom that eventually led to streaming.

Note: Starting in 1987, hundreds of video features were produced in Ghana, coinciding with the video film era happening in Nigeria at the time, officially launching what is now referred to as Nollywood.


“No Tears for Ananse,” Sam Aryeetey, 1968

The adventures of Ananse, the spider-man, and brother of the god of the sky, as well as a symbol of skill and shrewdness and a classic character in traditional Akan (southern Ghanaian) legends.

“I Told You So,” Egbert Adjesu, 1970

A comedy that tells the story of a father who refuses to agree to his daughter’s marriage to a wealthy man. The story chronicles the conflict between a family in post-colonial Ghana as they struggle to choose between love and money.

“Love Brewed in the African Pot,” Kwaw Paintsil Ansah, 1980

Love collides with social class and colonialism when Aba Appiah, born to privilege, falls in love with Joe Quansah, son of a fisherman. Her father, retired civil servant Kofi Appiah, has other plans for her and seeks to block their marriage. The resulting conflict has complex and unexpected consequences.

“His Majesty’s Sergeant,” Ato Yanney, 1983

A story of racial conflict set in the war-torn Burmese forest in 1944 when three soldiers, an African, an Indian, and a Briton, end up hiding together.

Note: This is a trailer for the film.

“Kukurantumi: The Road to Accra,” King Ampaw, 1983

Addey is a lorry driver and an industrious family man who makes ends meet by plying his trade between Accra, and his village, Kukurantumi. After losing his job for reasons beyond his control, he plots a marriage between his daughter and an affluent businessman, but she refuses the union because she loves another and disobeys her father, and things worsen.

Note: This is a trailer for the film.

“Out of Sight,” Tom Ribeiro, 1983


“The Visitar,” Tom Ribeiro, 1983


“Black Home Again,” Kwame Robert Johnson and Koffi Zokko Nartey, 1984


“Juju” / “Nana Akoto,” King Ampaw and Ingrid Metner, 1986


“Testament,” John Akomfrah, 1988


“Heritage…Africa,” Kwaw Paintsil Ansah, 1989


“Ama,” Kwaté Nee Owu and Kwesi Owusu, 1991


“Who Needs a Heart,” John Akomfrah, 1991


“Stand by Me,” Socrate Safo, 1996


“Speak Like a Child,” documentary, John Akomfrah, 1998