So I suppose it’s alright to break out of my role as a music column writer to bring you little gems of love from the movie world. Besides I owe it to the director for but out such a great film. A couple months ago, I was invited to Beverly Hills for the screening of an indie film called Kwame.
Directed by the recently graduated USC Masters Grad Edward Osei Gyimah, Kwame follows the true story of a former Captain in the Ghanaian Army. He was forced to leave the country during a coup d’ etat that he disagreed with; but with this fleeing of his country and everyone he knows, he makes a haunting sacrifice.
The movie is told through flashbacks of Kwame (played by Benjamin Ochieng) during the conflict in Ghana, 20 years in the past. The movie doesn’t have that cool build up noise before the transition like in Lost, but it worked just fine. He must battle the internal struggle with the idea of returning home to take his confidence, among many things, away from the monster of fear that brought him to the United States.
He moves to Los Angeles and takes up a job as a cab driver (Cab Driver was the original name for the film), seeing visages of his left behind family at every turn. While driving around the city, he often has to deal with the frustration of people who claim him as a lost African, due to the adinkra symbol Nyame Ye Ohene (God is King) hanging on his rearview mirror.
I personally think that one scene in which a lady from his home country asks him about the symbol; it brings up a relevant issue for immigrant Africans. For personal experience, I have witnessed conversations of my dad and other immigrant Africans about their positions on the state of the world, and their home country. I’m sure for many other immigrants from other countries; they all have had situations with their fellow citizens, whether it be praise or not so constructive criticism of their standing in America. And being that this movie was made in a high population school, with various immigrant backgrounds in its attendance, I’m sure nostalgia will ensue while watching this film.
But Kwame doesn’t just have to deal with his own personal issues, but also the issues surrounding his floor mate, nurse turned drug addict, Roxanne (played by Jessica Diz). While unseen in the movie, she is struggling with the loss of her infant son. What I liked about these two characters together, is that even though Kwame is the main character, Roxanne still feels like an important and established character. This is important because I think short films go out on a limb trying to introduce another main character, give them relevance, and not screw the movie up.
I think that the only problem with the film was simple: it was too short. But for a student to pull off the kind of work done in this film, it’s a wonder he isn’t out on the street begging now. This shit was expensive, costing above fifty thousand dollars.
Being British, Gyimah makes sure no detail is spared, and this is something that the newbs seem to forget. Like Red says, their “eyes were too big”, and the vision goes way beyond the actual execution. For instance, watch in the first few minutes for the faucet leaking the water into the bucket. It set a tone of beauty, but unrest simultaneously.
I don’t know how, but apparently Ghana is easily recreated in the hills of Pasadena. The locales in the film were very believable. It’s a shame that this movie was only a half hour. But rest assured that Edward is currently submitting to the film festivals to see attention and a bigger budget for a feature length rebuild.
More info in the film can be found at the website, and its Facebook account. If you’re into indie films, and the underdogs behind them, you should get in contact with Gyimah and get yourself a copy. Also, the film will be screened February 5th through 16th at the Pan African Film Festival in Culver City.
To the cast and crew, wonderful job, and I will hopefully follow up at the festival to see what the big shots think of it.