A brief history of the Ghanaian movie industry

The history of the Ghanaian movie, often known as Ghallywood or the Ghana Cinema Industry, began in 1923, when early filming waThe history of the Ghanaian movie, often known as Ghallywood or the Ghana Cinema Industry, began in 1923, when early filming was introduced to the British colony of Gold Coast (now Ghana). At the time, only the rich could see the film, notably the Gold Coast’s colonial ruler. Ghanaian film production began to expand in the 1950s. Cinemas were the primary venue for film watching prior to the introduction of home video. While discussions and contacts with stakeholders continued, a petition was sent to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, requesting that the name Black Star Pictures be discontinued.


Films made during the colonial period

People from the private sector brought film to Ghana (previously the Gold Coast) in the early 1920s by opening cinemas in major cities. By 1923, cinema had grown into a new kind of entertainment, with only the privileged able to attend screenings. Cinemas were designated for society’s elite crust, especially colonial administrators and senior bureaucrats. Later, cinema vehicles were used in rural areas.

When colonial rulers discovered that cinema could be used to brainwash and mold society in the direction of the filmmaker, they established the Gold Coast Cinema Unit in 1948 as part of the colonial government’s Information Services Department. Cinema evolved to become yet another scientifically recognized method of influencing society. On green-yellow Bedford buses, the Gold Coast Film Unit showed documentary films, newsreels, and government information films to the public. Attendance was entirely free. The films included propaganda films during World War Two produced by London’s Colonial Film Unit (CFU).


The unit produced instructional and feature films for its African colonies throughout the war. The films were created to contrast the “civilized” lifestyle of the West with the “backward” lifestyle of Africa. They campaigned for an end to “superstitious” behaviors.

The Gold Coast Film Unit also produced local-interest films to encourage improved health, crops, living circumstances, marketing, and human cooperation. In 1948, the Gold Coast Film Unit began educating local African filmmakers. Numerous British colonies in Africa exchanged movies.

Ghana Film Industry: Today’s Ghanaian Cinema

Ghana’s film industry, colloquially known as the Ghana Film Industry, or Ghallywood, started in the early 1980s. Prior to the Ghana Film Industry, the country’s sole producer of films was the government of Ghana, which inherited the film industry from the colonial administration. Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, established the Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) in 1964 in Kanda, Accra, which would become the country’s capital in 1977. GFIC now houses TV3, a private Malaysian television network.

President of the First Republic of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, dispatched numerous Ghanaians abroad to study filmmaking in order to operate the GFIC. Ghana’s government has hired professionally educated filmmakers to produce videos promoting the country’s socioeconomic prosperity. Under President Nkrumah’s leadership, the government educated luminaries such as Rev. Chris Essie, Mr. Ernest Abbeyquaye, Mr. Kwaw Ansah, and many more. GFIC was established to offset the negative impact of colonial government films and to restore inhabitants’ pride in being Ghanaians and Africans.

The Ghana Film Industry Corporation was making films to assist Africans in achieving self-sufficiency. The GFIC had produced over 150 feature and documentary films by the late 1960s. Ghana’s film industry deteriorated following Nkrumah’s overthrow in 1966. In 1981, Kwaw Ansah, a well-known Ghanaian filmmaker, published the first independent film, Love Brewed in the African Pot. Celluloid film was utilized for manufacturing.

After that, in 1982, Ghanaian director King Ampaw, who had studied German, published his film Kukurantumi – The Way to Accra. By the mid-1980s, a new generation in Ghana, led by William Akuffo, chose to exploit the new video technology that had been introduced to the world in 1978 for film production. In Ghana, feature-length films were filmed with Video Home System (VHS) cameras beginning in 1986. The goal was to tell Ghanaian and African tales from the perspective of Africans. Ghana was the first country in the world to shoot feature-length films on VHS. During the end of the 1980s, Ghana could brag about a number of films produced in Ghana on VHS tapes and cassettes.

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During the late 1980s, Ghana experienced an increase in the production of direct-to-video films. Both the state-owned Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) and commercial filmmakers have difficulty obtaining funds for cinematography. As a consequence, Ghanaians began to make their own films using VHS video cameras. Independent filmmakers created their own Ghanaian stories and scripts for their films, enlisted professional and amateur actors, and produced popular films, notably in Accra. Profits from VHS video movies boosted the film industry. In the 1980s, when filmmakers started making video films, GFIC fought back vigorously.

The GFIC executives did not see video technology as a potential worldwide format of filmmaking, thus they aggressively fought it and made it difficult for Ghanaian independent filmmakers at the time. The GFIC prohibited its film directors from supporting the independent producer in the production of the video films. The GFIC decision prompted Ghana to lose professionalism in the art of filmmaking. The producers were forced to start directing their own short films. This culture of producing and directing without any professional filmmaking skills would become a controlled culture over the next three decades.

After a few years, GFIC started to give technical support to VHS makers in exchange for the honor of the first screening in its Accra theaters. These films have increased in popularity as Ghanaians recognized realistic depictions of themselves in these films made by indigenous Ghanaian filmmakers. Ghana produced over fifty VHS video movies each year in the early 1990s. Professional and amateur Ghanaian filmmakers produced films of equivalent quality and received equal respect throughout time.

In 1996, the Ghanaian government sold 70% of its stake in the GFIC to the Malaysian television production company Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad of Kuala Lumpur. “Gama Media System Ltd” replaced the GFIC. This had an adverse effect on the country’s budding film industry. GFIC controlled over half of the country’s theaters at the time. The sale of 70% of GFIC drove the film industry to its knees. Due to the firm’s lack of interest in filmmaking, Ghana’s film industry was controlled by freelance filmmakers whose funding was contingent on the success of the films.  In Ghanaian cinema, for example, the theme of darkness and occultism is widespread, presented within a framework of Christian dualism involving God and the Devil.

The Twi language movies were termed “Kumawood” films whiles Ghanaian films in English are frequently referred to as “Ghallywood” productions and since there is no official word for Ghanaian films, we refer to them as Ghana Films. Despite the considerable condemnation, films depicting African witchcraft continue to be popular in Ghana. [three references] Ghana is well-known for its low-budget visual effects flicks. One of them is Obonsam Besu (2010). (The Devil Will Cry).

Around 1997, Ghanaians and Nigerians began making collaboration films, introducing Nigerian film directors such as Ifeanyi Onyeabor (a.k.a. Big Slim), Rev. Tony Meribe-White, and later, around 2006, Nigerian filmmaker Frank Rajah Arase, whom Ifeanyi Onyeabor brought in as his personal or production assistant. He also became a film director, collaborating with Venus Productions, a Ghanaian production company, to create a series of films using Ghanaian notable actors who might find work in Nigeria (Nollywood). The cast included Van Vicker, Jackie Appiah, Majid Michel, Yvonne Nelson, John Dumelo, Nadia Buari, and Yvonne Okoro. Some Nigerian producers have filmed in Ghana, where production costs are lower.



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