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Cinema: West African Folk Tale Competes for the Golden Bear


The short film “Kwaku Ananse” makes its World Premiere on February 12th at the 63rd Berlinale Film
Festival in Germany, where it is competing for the Golden Bear Prize for Best Short Film. Written and
directed by Ghanaian-American Akosua Adoma Owusu, it is a creative retelling of a West African fable
about wisdom. Owusu puts her unique stamp on the story by weaving it with a semi-autobiographical thread
that makes the story deeply personal.
The film opens with Nyan Koronhwea, the main character, arriving in a West African village to attend her
estranged father’s funeral. She struggles to accept her father’s Ghanaian family or even mourn his death
because she knows he lived a double life – having families in both Ghana and the United States.
Rather than face the reality of the funeral, Nyan retreats into the spirit world, where she meets her father,
Kwaku Ananse, confronts him about his deception, and has to decide whether to forgive him. The film’s
quiet, deliberative tone draws the viewer into Nyan’s experience, inviting empathy, and encouraging each of
us to consider the state of our own relationships.
Owusu describes the film as “an intensely personal project” that is “a reflection of a broader truth about the
human condition,” and “an effort to preserve a fable my late father passed on to me…”
“Kwaku Ananse” is a Ghana, Mexico, United States co-production, and was produced by Julio
Chavezmontez (of Piano Production Company in Mexico) and Lisa Cortes (Executive Producer of the
award-winning film “Precious”). It was created with the support of Focus Features Africa First, Art Matters
and The Sarah Jacobson Film Grant. It stars Jojo Abot as Nyan and legendary palmwine musician Koo
Nimo as Kwaku Ananse. View the trailer below: