When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr declared that he had a dream, few people at the time may have envisioned the impact of his profound words on future generations. Since then, several people have been inspired to greater works, and one them is Ghanaian film actress and founder of the Black Star International Film Festival (BSIFF), Juliet Yaa Asantewaa Asante.
Apart from being a consummate filmmaker, Pan-Africanist and graduate of the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) in Ghana, Juliet is deeply involved in women advocacy. She started a non-profit organisation ‘Save Our Women International’ which focuses on female sexual education and went further to launch ‘Mobile Flicks’, an online film and TV platform across Africa. ‘Mobile Flicks’ has about one hundred thousand subscriber downloads in Ghana and is also available in some 30 countries.Her film ‘Silver Rain’ reveals the disparity between the haves and the have nots and sheds light on the plight of women in the African society.
Juliet, who holds a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, has always placed female gender development at the forefront of her career. And the just ended Black Star International Film Festival (BSIFF), which she founded, sought to help bridge the gap between African cinema and the world. 70 countries participated in the three-day film festival which took place in Accra- Ghana from the 18th -21st of August.
The First Lady of Ghana, Madam Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and the Second Lady, Madam Samira Bawumia, are some of the high profile public figures who turned up at the festival. In an interview with Globe Entertainment UK, Juliet disclosed that she strongly believed in providing a level playing ground for both men and women. “There should be equal opportunities for both men and women, and a woman who is empowered should be in the same position as the man” she disclosed.
Juliet doesn’t believe in creating special circumstances for women to thrive and argues that a woman who is empowered can hold her own no matter the challenges. She said by winning the Best Female Director for her film ‘Black Barbie’, Ghanaian female animator Comfort Arthur had proved that women were indeed capable of thriving.
Like all winners of other award categories at the BSIFF, Comfort Arthur would receive price money of $3000 under the Yaa Asantewa UNDP Awards aimed at empowering up and coming filmmakers to start a new project that promotes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
When asked the way forward for the Ghanaian film industry, the Founder of the Black Star International Film Festival (BSIFF) Juliet Asante said several things needed to happen between stakeholders and Government to propel the industry. And that she was fulfilling her part of the bargain by organising the film to empower filmmakers.