Last summer, I penned an article for Big World Magazine on female film directors in Ghana. The genesis of my article was not predetermined interest or divine inspiration—it was panic. At the time I began researching and writing the story, I was 21 years old, three weeks deep into a 40-day journalism immersion program in Accra, and had little to show for it. By the end of the sixth week, I was expected to have produced a professional-ish news feature, and while the stakes weren’t exactly high—bombing a college course versus, you know, getting fired—I wasn’t about to let my time in Ghana go to waste.
So I narrowed my focus to a subject I can claim moderate expertise about: film. I am an undergraduate journalism and cinema studies double major, and while my interests have, over time, shifted more towards the journalism side of that binary, I maintain a healthy curiosity about film production and distribution around the world, especially in a West African market I knew nothing about. I began talking to figures in the Accra entertainment industry—most notably and helpfully Nanabanyin Dadson, editor of the Graphic Showbiz, Ghana’s largest entertainment publication—and noticed that, in stark contrast to most film industries in the West, Ghana’s young, struggling film-making community included a significant number of female directors. In the exponentially larger American film market, I would be hard-pressed to name six currently working female directors off the top of my head, which means that Ghana’s small but influential body of women filmmakers merits a much closer look.
My one regret with the story—of any story, of journalism—is that I could have written more. I talked to five or six more fascinating, valuable sources than actually ended up in the final draft, and I wish I had found a way to incorporate at least some of them without losing the article’s structure, such as it is. But I had a plane to catch and a boatload of experiences to digest. My story is not the final word on Ghana’s female filmmakers, but it’s a thread that someone will get to continue. I’ll be watching.