Founding President Juliet Asante
Founding President Juliet A

The 2nd edition of the Black Star International Film Festival came to a successful end on Sunday, 21st August 2017 at the One Airport Square.

The Founding President of BSIFF used the occasion to push the advocacy goals of the Black Star International film Institute, the organizers of the festival. Juliet Asante urged government to see film as a tool for education, communications, national branding and a very important tool for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), by Making an important destination for film shoots. This can be achieved by government passing policies that attract filmmakers to shoot in Ghana. She urged Ghana to follow the examples of South Africa and Nigeria who have consistently made their markets attractive. Nollywood is the second largest employer in Nigeria after agriculture and tax rebates make the South African market very attractive. She urged that Ghana should use our embassies around the globe to show Ghana films and Documentary. The honorable Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture hinted that this was a policy she was committed to pursuing. Also see the full text of Juliet Asante’ speech below.

Juliet’s speech:

#Bsiff2017 note: – opening ceremony speech

We welcome everyone to the Black Star International Film Festival.

I am truly honoured and privileged that you are here sharing this experience with me…….. So many things have happened over the past year and I can’t wait to tell you about them. But before I do, let me just share my thoughts about the benefits of film.

Film may do many things, but most importantly, can act as cultural diplomacy tool, helping to connect various cultures and people from around the world.

This year, 45 countries made it through into the festival and many of those countries will be represented at the events. How many of you will agree that that is indeed exciting?

We must not forget that Film is also an important tool for education. It is used as a case study tool in schools from Ivy League Institutions such as Harvard and MIT to online courses like ‘Coursera’.

Films such as ‘the Marshian’ and ‘Lincoln’ are used in American classrooms to help supplement areas of study.

This shows that in an environment such as ours where there are gaps in education and skill sets, we can put this important tool to very good use to help us fill in those critical gaps.

We hope that the many filmmakers who are interacting with Ghana will consider doing co-productions with Ghanaian filmmakers.

When I produced my movie SilveRain, working with filmmakers from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Sierra Leone helped to take the film the distance.

Not to mention my time with films like ‘deadly voyage’, the skills transfers and foreign direct investments that moved into Ghana for that production.

Ghana needs to go beyond the occasional co-productions like ‘the beast of no nation’ – that not only created stars for Ghana, but brought in a budget of over 6million dollars.

We ought to follow in the example of our fellow Africans in South Africa that have signed film treaties with over 30 countries and Nigeria that has through effective policy, grown Nollywood to be the second largest film industry in the world and the second largest employer in Nigeria after Agriculture.

All around us then, there are examples of how we can use film to not only help the local economy, but as a communication tool to brand the country effectively as well to attract the necessary goodwill and attract tourism, etc into the country.

As a filmmaker and the founding President of this festival, I use this opportunity to request that the government of Ghana uses the Ghanaian embassies around the world to show visitors beautiful images from Ghana.

Embassies can display feature films or documentaries on the screens in their embassies and periodically engage with the local community by screening Ghanaian movies. Let us learn from the examples of Germany for instance that shows German films in Ghana at the Goethe Institute or the British council that does same.

So I mentioned earlier there were some things had occurred over the past year which I couldn’t wait to share with you – the Black Star International film Festival Institute, the organizers of Black star International film festival made some great advocacy strides, working with our key advocacy partners, the Busac fund.

The Institute completed an industry cover document which maps out the value of the sector to the national development agenda and the role of the various government agencies in enabling the benefit of the movie sector to Ghana.

The stakeholder ministries identified are the ministries of Finance, Trade, Information, Foreign affairs, communications, Education, Tourism culture and the creative Arts and Ghana Investment Promotion council. We ask the ministries of Trade, Finance, Foreign Affairs and government agencies like GIPC to recognize the critical role that film can play in helping to attract FDIs, improve skills and create jobs.

As David Ayewolo says in our closing film this year, A United Kingdom, a film by British born Ghanaian Amma Asante, ‘It is time!’

You are welcome to the Black Star International film festival 2017 edition and it is all about ‘the young at heart’. Have a great festival and we say Akwaaba