News in motion from the world's youngest continent

Sierra Leone

GHANA – Me Broni Ba – Akosua Adoma Owusu / SIERRA LEONE – African Booty Scratcher – Nikyatu Jusu

From the beginning of this blog, I mainly talked about long feature films, but what about short movies?

To deal with this subject, I would like to focus on two shorts from two different countries. They both have in common the fact of being directed by young women from the New West African Diaspora.

Akosua Adoma Owusu is a Virginia born, Ghanaian filmmaker and artist. She made an acclaimed debut with her short movie Me Broni Ba (My White Baby) that has been shown at over 50 high profile institutions worldwide including The Museum of Modern Art, Rotterdam Film Festival, London Film Festival, DOK Leipzig, and Cannes Film Festival at Cinema des Mondes.  The movie won a lot of prizes during those screenings such as the Best Documentary Short Award in Chicago Underground Film Festival (2009) or the Second Prize of Documentary Short in Athens Film & Video Festival (2009).

Nikyatsu Jusu is an American born to Sierra Leonean parents and graduated of the NYU Tisch School of Arts. Her first film is named after a provocative title, African Booty Scratcher and tells the story of Isatu, a young Sierra Leonean American who is at the intersection of two cultures—or perhaps three, her mother’s culture, American culture and US high school culture. Her story is told at a rapid pace where the movements of the handheld camera answer the rhythm of the protagonist’s words.

African Booty Scratcher

While Nikyatsu Jusu situated her first movie in the US, Akosua Adoma Owusu shot it in Africa. Me Broni Ba is a lyrical portrait of hair salons in Kumasi, Ghana. The legacy of European colonialism in Africa is suggested by images of women practicing hair braiding on discarded white baby dolls from the West. The film is constructed with a series of vignettes, set against a child’s story of migrating from Ghana to the United States. It is a mixture of fact and creative storytelling: blending jazzy tunes, documentary footage, slow motion images, and other audio and sound tracks.

Me Broni Ba

Through those fresh movies, both directors claim their hybrid identity: being as much American as African. While Owusu’s is mixing avant-garde filmmaking with West African storytelling, Nikyatsu Jusu follows the tradition of African Americans inspired by directors like Spike Lee. The two women could be seen as symbols of a Diaspora which reflects multiple identities, histories and experiences of those born in the United States with Western African traditions. Two talents that must be followed!

Me Broni Ba – Akosua Adoma Owusu – 22’ – 2009

African Booty Scratcher – Nikyatu Jusu – 13’ – 2008