The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2017 and 2018, approved a 14-member committee which was later reconstituted into a 12-member committee to select a film to represent Ghana annually at the Oscars.
Following the guidelines of the Academy, the committee is tasked to select from open submissions one film to represent Ghana at the awards. This year, the committee has selected a local movie titled ‘Azali’ to represent Ghana in the International Feature Film category for the Oscars which would be held on 9th February 2020.
This comes as good news for Ghana’s film industry in recent times since the nation couldn’t select a film out of all the submitted ones (they failed to meet the required standard) to the committee in 2017 and 2018 respectively to represent Ghana at the Oscars.
However, a slight botch seems to characterize the whole news and that has to do with several reports, local and international – including hollywoodreporter.com, stating unequivocally that ‘Azali’ is the first Ghanaian movie to be selected for a possible Oscar nomination.
“Kwabena Gyansah’s story of a teenage girl’s escape from an arranged marriage to a 70-year-old farmer is the African country’s first ever Oscar submission” – captured in the holywoodreporter.com’s report in September 20, 2019.
The CEO of AnimaxFYB Studios, creative director and animator, Francis Y. Brown, also a graduand from the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI), has come out to fervently shoot down the claim that ‘Azali’ is the first Ghanaian film to be selected for the Oscars.
“In 2015, Agorkoli, a short animated film that told the story of the Ewe migration, was the first film from Ghana to be shortlisted for the Oscars” Francis Y. Brown clarified.
Francis Y. Brown completed Agorkoli for his final year project as a student at the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) located in Accra, Ghana. According to him, “over two years of research and labor went into producing Agorkoli.”
After an intensive two-year research, Brown used five months to produce the film collaborating with various creatives along the way. In 2015, Agorkoli won the Best Film Of The Year and Best Animated Film at NAFTI. This award qualified ‘Agorkoli’ to be submitted (by NAFTI, an accredited institution) to the Student Academy Awards, an extension of the Oscars.
‘Agorkoli’ was shortlisted making it the first film from Ghana to be shortlisted at the Oscars.
He supported his claim with evidence – below:
The acclaim for Mr. Brown’s ‘Agorkoli’ didn’t stop there. Agorkoli was nominated for the 2015 Africa Academy Awards, won 2016 Best Animation at the Africa International Film Festival, selected for the 2017 FESPACO, won 2017 Best Animation at Zulu Africa Film Academy Awards, and
He also took home Ghana UK Based Achievement 2017 Animator of the Year award. Furthermore, ‘Agorkoli’ won Best Animation at the 2015 Francophone Film Festival, giving him a chance to be the first animation studio in Ghana to participate in Annecy International Film Festival in 2015.
In total, ‘Agorkoli’ participated in over 30 film festivals (domestically and internationally) and has since won sixteen awards. Post, ‘Agorkoli,’ Mr. Brown has remained steadfast in his commitment to tell our African stories through animation.
In 2014 Brown founded AnimaxFYB Studios; an animation, visual effects and design studio which has produced award winning animations most recently taking home Best Animation at the 2018 Ghana Movie Awards.
Currently, AnimaxFYB Studios is working on a major project that will debut on Friday, December 20th 2019 at Alliance Francaise. This project, which has been described as “a powerful African story that needs to be told,” has been years in the making, bringing together historians, writers, producers, technicians and animators from all over the world.
The hope for our African stories to be documented, preserved and celebrated is the underlying force that pushes creatives such as Brown to create Agorkoli and now, this upcoming project.