By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act January 14, 2012 at 10:54AM
Congrats to Ghanaian American filmmaker Akosua Adoma, whose feature-length experimental film about a promiscuous Ghanaian hairdresser, was one of 23 filmmakers to be selected to receive a Creative Capital 2012 grant in Film/Video.
Creative Capital will provide up to $50,000 in direct project funding, plus advisory services valued at more than $40,000; to date, the initiative, which emphasizes the importance of risk-taking, encouraing projects that are bold, innovative, genre-stretching and topical, has committed nearly $25 million in financial and advisory support to artists since 1999.
Akosua's feature is titled Black Sunshine, and here's how Creative Capital describes it:
Black Sunshine is a feature-length experimental film about a promiscuous Ghanaian hairdresser, Effie, and her albino daughter, Asabea. Born albino, everything about Asabea sets her apart. Her days are spent caring for her ailing mother and dreaming of escaping with her mysterious friend, Shebere. When she tries to balance her life between Effie and Shebere, she finds herself pulled down two separate paths—and the places they lead her are darker than she could ever imagine. The film weaves together scripted and nontraditional documentary forms, and examines albino Africans as tropes for crosscultural identity. Albinos have been chastised, ridiculed and killed in many parts of Africa because of their skin color. The film explores conventional beauty, emotional violence, the social stigma of albinism in Africa and its impact on family dynamics.
Very much inline with themes Akosua has explored in previous works (specifically conventional beauty and identity) including the short documentary titled Me Broni Ba, which translates as My White Baby - a film we introduced you to way back in 2009, on the old S&A site.
"Me Broni Ba" is a phrase of endearment used in parts of Ghana, as in when a mother refers to her beloved child, or even a husband referring to his cherished wife; in either situation, the adorer will refer to the adored as "Me Broni Ba," or, "My White Baby;" essentially, it speaks to that age-old idea that, for blacks, "whiteness" is the ideal.
More specifically, its synopsis reads: "The tangled legacy of European colonialism in Africa is evoked through images of women practicing hair braiding on discarded white baby dolls from the West. The film unfolds through a series of vignettes, set against a child's story of migrating from Ghana to the United States. The film uncovers the meaning behind the Akan term of endearment, me broni ba, which means “my white baby.”
The 22-minute film screened at numerous film festivals worldwide, to much critical acclaim. I saw it and I concur. I thought maybe I'd find it online but it isn't.
I should also note that Akosua was also selected for the most recent class of the Focus Features African First porgram we've talked so much about here on S&A. I had a chance to interview the entire class last fall, including Akosua, although I haven't yet posted the profiles yet; I plan to do so next week, likely starting with Akosua's.
But Black Sunshine is now officially a project on my alert list, so as Akosua moves forward with it, I'll report anything here of signifance. She's clearly off to a good start with this Creative Capital grant, and I expect this is a film we'll be talking about in another year or so after it's been completed.
Below is a short profile of the filmmaker; and underneath is a trailer for her award-winning documentary Me Broni Ba: