From “Ghallywood” to “Black Star”: The Strategic Rebranding of Ghana’s Film Industry

In an exclusive interview with broadcaster TV3’s New Day program on February 23, Juliet Yaa Asantewa Asante, CEO of Ghana’s National Film Authority and Board Chair of the National Film and Television Institute, shared her vision and initiatives for the Ghanaian film industry.

Here are highlights from the energetic, insightful conversation:

– Asante pointed to the South Korean film and TV industry as a model she wants to follow for developing high-quality Ghanaian content that remains true to national culture and language.

– A lot of time was dedicated to tax incentives and film funding. Asante discussed working on tax incentives to attract international productions to Ghana and the importance of establishing a film fund to support local filmmakers.

– Asante mentioned having a conversation with Amazon before they left Africa, aiming to encourage them to come to Ghana for production. The conversation highlighted for her a significant challenge Amazon faced in other countries, where they waited up to 5 years without receiving their tax rebates. [One wonders if this had anything to do with why Amazon halted its Africa operations].

– Asante then emphasized the importance of Ghana offering a more attractive and efficient tax incentive system for film productions. Specifically, the proposal includes a total exemption on the importation of equipment, presenting a simplified and more appealing option for producers by removing the need for upfront payment and the complications associated with waiting for rebates.

– Asante discussed the complexity surrounding the “Black Star” branding of the Ghanaian film industry. Briefly, the industry, sometimes referred to as Ghallywood, sought a new name to unify and strengthen its identity on both a continental and global scale, similar to well-known industry monikers like Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood. The rebranding was part of broader efforts to enhance the industry’s marketability. The controversy involves disagreement over the newly chosen name (by popular vote). Some stakeholders questioned the selection process and the name’s potential conflict of interest due to its similarity to Ghana’s Black Star International Film Festival, founded by Asante. Despite controversies over naming rights, Asante suggests that the focus should remain on the broader implications for Ghana rather than individual interests.

– Despite being relatively new, Asante emphasized that the National Film Authority has launched significant campaigns like the Shooting Ghana campaign and the C agenda, aiming to establish Ghana as a premier film and content hub in Africa.

– Asante, who is in her third year as NFA chief, expressed excitement about the opportunity to serve her country, viewing her new role as a continuation of her efforts to implement ideas and effect change within the creative arts and tourism sectors.

– Asante plans to listen and review existing ideas and strategies. She aims to engage in deep conversations to explore untapped possibilities, such as incorporating design thinking and gamification in education. She emphasized the importance of operating beyond a partisan mindset to foster sector growth and national development, focusing on creating jobs for young people and reducing unemployment.

– Recognizing the global shift towards digitalization and the potential of Ghana’s young population, Asante highlighted the need to enhance the skill levels and technological proficiency of the youth.

– She touched on divisions within the Ghanaian film industry, particularly between different linguistic and cultural factions. Asante views these divisions as symptomatic of larger challenges but expressed optimism that quality improvements and a focus on authentic Ghanaian content will naturally bridge these gaps.

– Asante stressed the importance of leadership in guiding the industry toward unity, quality, and global relevance.

Overall, Asante’s vision for the Ghanaian film industry is to focus on inclusivity, innovation, and leveraging Ghana’s unique cultural and demographic advantages to position the country as a leading destination for content creation in Africa.

Watch the full interview below: