Monday, November 19, 2012

GAMBIA: Young talents to star in €51K movie - ‘The Woman In A Black Jacket’

Prince Sankanu speaks to Modou S. Joof, publisher of The North Bank Evening Standard, on his film project
“The Woman In  A Black Jacket” is one of two movies to be shot in The Gambia in a film project initiated and set in motion by Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, a Germany-based Gambian filmmaker, author and strategy consultant.

The movie is about the menace of rape, a sensitive and major topic around the world, and Sankanu said talking about it (rape) is about placing the mirror before society to look at this issue which cannot be buried under the carpet.

“Rape is an issue that affects all human races beyond culture or language. The movie will be accepted worldwide and once it is done in The Gambia, it will market the country,” said Prince Sankanu who believes the movie will give young actors and actresses in Gambia an opportunity to shine.

“That’s what brought me here. The movie is about a universal subject that can be set anywhere. I decided to choose Gambia because I don’t like the way the Gambian film industry is. Our young talents are been exploited by people coming here with funny and inflated budgets,” Sankanu told me on Friday, November 16 at the Alliance Franco where he was meeting young talents for the second time at an informal session to brief them about the project.

“It’s going to be 99 percent (%) Gambian, I said we have to start something modest and am coming here to give young talents a chance,” he said, but noted that he may bring in one or two people from Germany and another from his production crew “only when the skills and equipments required for a professional movie are absent.” 

Young actors and actresses have been brief on what to consider when going to a January 2013 audition on the movie - The Woman In A Black Jacket: the dress code, style among other things. Those lucky to be in the final list will be given scripts to start rehearsing before the principal photography or shooting. It could take at least six months before the final cut of the movie is out.

“If we are satisfied with the pictures, I want it to be premiered during the next International Women’s Day on March 8 or in July to coincide with African Women’s Day,” he said. “Our next festival in Germany will be in 2014, there is still time, depending on the material and qualities we have.”

Sankanu has already nominated Mr. Momodou Lamin Touray, a young Gambian as Director, while he serves as Executive Producer and lead male actor. He explains that 32 locations are needed for movie but a 100 or more locations (in standby) will be secured just in case some become in accessible during the course of the shooting.  

Sankanu, who in a protective move, heavily criticized film projects in Gambia by Nigerians Rita Edochi and Jim Iyke for “inflated budgets” in June this year, says the cost of his project is pegged at a “modest”  €51, 000 (Euros). 

“We are able to have a world standard movie within this budget,” he said, part of which will come from him and the other part open to Gambian commercial managers for brand placements. “The idea is to involve public and private sector so it can be collaborative when Gambian brands are represented. It will then be marketed as a true Gambian movie,” he added.

Don’t know

Sankanu, who is the Chief Executive Producer of Royal Sankanura Principality Studious in Germany, have met and discuss his project with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoTC) and the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC). Both pledges to supports his project but Sankanu is not yet sure what kind of support that is or will be. 

“I don’t know, the only thing is that they are ready to support the project within their mandate. So whatever the support they are ready to concretize it and specify, and they will be credited as required by international standards,” he said. “I cannot come and say I want you to do this. I just say this is what I have and this is what I have in mind. So you can see how to come on board.”

Chilling effect

Within one year in Germany, Sankanu organised a festival which he said was successful, acted in various TV series, so career-wise things have gone fine with him.  But within one year when it comes to Gambia nothing has moved. 

I submitted a project proposal on how to build a film industry. I proposed a name for the project. I propose a festival and also have a legacy project which is a film school, they have been there for almost a year now, Sankanu said of the “general slow pace” of things in The Gambia, which is in sharp contrast to the time consciousness in Germany.

Asked if this slow pace could have a chilling effect on his project, he said: “It is now that am coming and this fear has been with me all along, the fear is still there. Things will move slowly but if I am able to get at least 5% of what I plan to achieve during this trip that will be a big achievement.”

“I have low expectations because I understand things are slow but I am optimistic after meeting with the authorities. And am sure they are determined and serious because they know that I have suspended a lot of activities to come home,” he added.

 Sankanu pledges to support the Standing Committee on Beauty Pageants and Movie Productions, an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism and the NCAC, as his quota towards the development of a sustainable Gambian film industry with ethics and standards. 

He noted that immediately after the committee was setup he took the first steps of contacting the Gambian authorities concerned and sent in a draft of a modern film industry regulatory policy framework for use as a working document by the committee members.

“It is something (the committee) that is long overdue,” he said. “So am ready to work with them to the end.” 
After “The Woman In A Black Jacket”, Sankanu also has plans to shoot in Gambia another movie about female genital mutilation (FGM), a notorious harmful traditional practice in the tiny West African nation of the Smiling Coast – Gambia.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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