The role of the film industry in the development agenda of any nation cannot be taken for granted in any way. Nations across the world have proven that film, when properly catered for, contributes enormously to the Gross Domestic Product of the nation.
In June, 2017, the Ghana Academy of Film and Television Arts (GAFTA) held an engagement with some key Film Stakeholders at Alliance Francaise in Accra.
This was to brainstorm on ways to advocate for the Development and Classification of Film Act 935 which was passed in December, 2016 to be made operational in Ghana in order to help film develop into an industry that befits the nation.
The necessary plans were made and a strategy developed to achieve the aim of the engagement.
Following this development, the Ghana Actors’ Guild in November, 2017 sought for support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) to seek the full operationalization of the Film Act 935.
The funding so received from BUSAC was with support from the European Union, DANIDA and USAID.
In view of experiences from actions seeking to achieve a goal of the magnitude as this, all major film stakeholders in the nation joined the advocacy action initiated by the Ghana Actors’ Guild since it had become evident that there was strength in unity and numbers.
The film stakeholders included Ghana Academy of Film and Television Arts, Ghana Actors’ Guild, Film Producers Association of Ghana, Film Crew Association of Ghana, New Media, Women in Film and Television, Film Marketers and Distributors Association, Audiovisual Rights Society of Ghana, Film Directors Guild of Ghana, National Film and Television Institute, Creative Authors and Directors Guild, amongst other bodies as stipulated by the Film Act 935.
The Advocacy Action which was gathering momentum was given a major push when at a forum organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture on May 30, 2018, at the instance of the Honorable Minister, Hon. Catherine Abelema Afeku at the Dubois Centre, a Task Team was to be formed to carry out a sensitization exercise.
Mr. George Bosompem, an Executive Member of GAFTA and a Lecturer at NAFTI was tasked with the responsibility of putting this Task Team together to tour the nation and to educate practitioners and the general public on the Film Act 935.
It was, however, unanimously agreed upon that the most pressing need was for a Legislative Instrument to be drawn to fully operationalize the Film Act. The Task Team, to be formed, was to go on a three (3) day retreat in the Volta Region for the purpose of putting together a Draft Legislative Instrument.
The Convener for the Task Team, taking a cue from the provision regarding the composition of the Governing Board of the National Film Authority, duly constituted the Task Team.
The Task Team went on the three (3) day retreat at the Volta Serene Hotel in Ho. The Hon Minister ensured that legal luminaries from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s office and the Copyright Office joined Film Stakeholders on the retreat to draft the Legislative Instrument.
An independent Legal Practitioner with experience in both drafting of legal instruments and film was added to the Task Team for the drafting process in Ho. Hon. Catherine Abelema Afeku led a delegation to the session in Ho, where she encouraged the Task Team to produce a document that would work in the favour of the film industry.
She assured the team of the commitment of the His Excellency, Nana Akuffo Addo led Government in ensuring that no stones are left unturned in rebuilding the Ghana Film Industry.
This retreat was fully funded by The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Upon returning from the rather successful retreat in Ho on June 23, 2018, where almost seventy (70) percent of the drafting of the Legislative Instrument was done, there were held four sessions to complete the document.
Apart from these meetings, there have been engagements with the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association and other related industry practitioners to gather useful input to finalize the document.
On August 1, 2018, a report on the extent of work done by the Task Team which comprised of the draft legislative instrument, minutes of all meetings and engagements made and a plan of action was presented to the Sector Minister, Hon. Catherine Abelema Afeku.
At this meeting, a formal request was made for the provision of the physical office for the National Film Authority, which as per the Act 935 is legally established. There was also a request for the sensitization proposed in the first engagement at Dubois Centre by Hon. Catherine Abelema Afeku to be undertaken.
The Sector Minister assured the team of the commitment of Government in ensuring that attention is paid to the film industry and to ensure that the industry is duly resourced so they can contribute effectively to national development.
A section of the Task Team was in Kumasi to have an engagement with film stakeholders there.
The sector Minister was represented by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr. Akwasi Agyeman. At the engagement, stakeholders were taken through the draft legislative instrument.
Their inputs were discussed and considered for possible addition to the draft document.
It was evident from events in Kumasi that there was the feeling that they had been sidelined in the operation of the Ministry. These concerns were heard and addressed.
It must be noted that the necessary bridges were built paving way for a very healthy engagement that can be said to have been highly fruitful. Prior to the engagement in Kumasi, there was a sensitization programme held at the Dubois Centre.
The Minister was represented by Mr Socrates Safo, Director in charge of the Creative Arts.
This engagement was dedicated to combing the Film Act 935 to identify areas where legislation must be made and added to the legislative instrument.
These engagements were fully funded by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
It must be stated that the Sector Minister for Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Catherine Abelema Afeku, has been of immense help to film stakeholders in their quest to have the requisite structures in shaping film in the country.
Notable amongst the efforts by the sector Minister is the commitment towards acquiring an office space for the setting up of the National Film Authority.
This is a step towards ensuring that the physical structure be put in place as the legal systems needed are also finalized.
This, we believe, is doable since establishment like the Public Prosecutors Office, Ghana Tourism Authority, National Communications Authority, were setup without a Legislative Instrument in place.
We are of the firm conviction that asking for the physical faculty for the National Film Authority to be in place and resourced for operations and outdoored by December, 2018 cannot be out of place. Spaces have been identified and a formal request made to our Sector Ministry.
It must be stated that in all these activities, the role played by various media institutions cannot be understated.
We believe that working in concert will help us, not only in moving the film industry forward but to ensure that we forge a partnership that will help push the developmental needs and agenda of this nation.