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Tribeca Heineken Award Spotlights Ghanaian American Feature Film ‘Black Sunshine’

BLACK SUNSHINE is a feature film slated for release in 2014 and is being nominated for the Tribeca Heineken Affinity Award for African American filmmakers. Written and directed by Ghanaian-American helmer, Akosua Adoma Owusu, “Black Sunshine” is a tale of beauty standards in an African context that is uniquely insinuated in a compelling drama.  The film is an international co-production with Mexican producer, Julio Chavezmontes (of the Sundance New Frontier hit ‘Halley’) and Senegalese director, Angele Diabang collaborating at production.  ‘Black Sunshine’ reflects Owusu’s own fascination with cultural exchange.

‘Black Sunshine’ is set in a Ghanaian village.  It revolves around an African hairdresser, her foreigner lover and her teenage daughter Asabea – an albino. Asabea’s struggle to balance her life between two people – her promiscuous mother and a mysterious black boy named Destiny–eventually leads her into darkness. Critics comment the film “examines albino Africans as tropes for cross-cultural identity. It explores colorism, emotional violence and the social stigma of albinism in Africa”.

Owusu vastly identifies with her lead albino character saying that although she feels like a product of America and Ghana, she’s a member of neither. Says Owusu, “Beauty has become a homogenous desire in parts of Africa where women are skin-bleaching and albinos are being hunted for fame and wealth. I wish to explore the shared sense of alienation and marginalization we often feel.” Currently, Owusu is raising funds to work with albino musician, Salif Keita and legendary palm-wine musician, Koo Nimo for the film’s soundtrack.

Supporters can VOTE daily for Owusu’s “Black Sunshine”. Winners will be announced during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

Akosua Adoma Owusu Tribeca profile

Photo credit: Albino, Freetown, Sierra Leone by Fieje Riemersma

The 80-minute film got its financing boost from a Creative Capital 2012 grant and featured in Locarno Film Festival’s Open Doors Co-Production Market last year. Creative Capital supports the most pioneering and adventurous artists through funding, guidance and encouragement. Says Ruby Lerner, Executive Director at Creative Capital: “We motivate artists to be architects of their own future”.

Akosua Adoma Owusu is an award-winning filmmaker. She holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA from CalArts. Recently named one of The Huffington Post’s 30 Black Contemporary Artists, her short film, “Kwaku Ananse” made waves in competition at Berlinale in Germany this year. This first-ever Ghana-Mexico-US film co-production was financed by Focus Features Africa First, Art Matters and the Sarah Jacobson Film Grant. Owusu’s “Me Broni Ba” or “My White Baby” garnered critical acclaim at over 80 international film festivals; and was acquired by The Cinema Guild. Her short, “Drexciya” too, was highly commended for its ‘radical nature’ securing her the Best Experimental Film Award at the Guanajuato International Film Festival in Mexico. 

She provided post-production assistanceon Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” and served on the jury panel and screening committees for AFI Silverdocs and Festival 3 Continents. Owusu received the Africa First award sponsored by Focus Features; a prestigious platform for African artists to gain an international audience.

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