By Goddy Nana Mens.
The vision of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Ghana and Weltfilme to create the first ever West African film network has taken a major step with the inclusion of the Gambia in its annual training of filmmakers.
The training which was held at the Koforidua YMCA Centre between 8th to 22nd June 2019 trained 36 young filmmakers in film directing, camera handling and Media For Peace. Participants for the training were selected from Ghana, Liberia, the Gambia and Sierra Leone.
Facilitated by filmmaking experts from Germany, participants were taught screenwriting, character development, camera handling and video editing. Participants also learnt the ethics of filmmaking, power of the media and conflict resolution through Media for Peace sessions facilitated by a representative from project partners, Xchange Perspectives.
The trained participants shall now use their new knowledge on the field by producing three short documentary films and three short fictional films on the theme, “Make A Difference”. All six films have been created to challenge stereotypes and start conversations that can lead to social change.
Speaking on the impact of the training, Shakiru Akinyemi, a Ghanaian participant specialising in directing, expressed gratitude to the organisers for the wonderful opportunity and explained the impact of the training on his development as a filmmaker. “I am very, very grateful for the organisers for picking me unto this project. It has helped me understand screenplay better, to be able to develop characters better, to listen more, be open to new ideas and look at things differently. I’ve learnt to take seemingly simple stories and turn them into powerful stories for others to learn from,” he said.
National Programmes Director of the Ghana YMCA, Samuel Asamoah, who serves as the project lead for the film training project expressed satisfaction with the programme and expressed optimism about the upcoming productions. “The project went on very smoothly; and the joy the partners and participants expressed at the closing ceremony is testimony to the work we put into this project. Now we are looking forward to supporting the participants to produce the wonderful films they have prepared. And we believe with the quality of training they have received, their productions would be world class.”
The short films, when finished, shall be published on social media and television across the Sub-Saharan. After which, all the contributing filmmakers shall be inducted into the West African Film Network powered by the Ghana YMCA and Weltfilme. This network has been built to foster international collaboration between filmmakers in West Africa and to project the positive stories of Africa.
The 2018 edition of the training programme dubbed “All On Board” also produced 6 critically acclaimed films that screened on television in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone as well in film festivals in Germany.
The YMCA is one of the world’s largest, oldest and most powerful youth organisations. It is committed to the total development of young people across the world. Weltfilme is a German non-profit organisation that aims to intensify the dialogue between the northern and the southern world using the medium film. It initiates film projects in developing countries and supports the works of local film makers – from script development through to post production.