Watch 20 Ghana by filmmaker Ebeneza Blanche

We chat with uber-cool filmmaker Ebeneza Blanche about his career, the huge influence of music in his work and his latest project, 20 Ghana, a short film that he captured to raise awareness of African culture.

20 Ghana film still
20 Ghana film still
“I believe that entertainment, art, whatever format you choose, I believe it's a medium where you can raise awareness for people of colour. ”
Ebeneza Blanche

OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH EBENEZA BLANCHE

Please state your name, profession and current city. 

My name is Ebeneza. I currently live in Amsterdam and I’m a film-maker. 

 

Please outline your career history. 

I started off doing music videos, creating music for my friends and then I progressed into fashion and short film.

 

How did you end up pursuing a creative career?

I first studied IT and business and there was a project where we had to make an animation video selling a company to a website. This was all in college I felt for once I wasn’t in college, I was actually was doing something that I loved and I decided to follow on from that to pursue a creative course instead of something computer-based so I applied for a media in the Midlands in the UK and I got in and the rest was history.

 

What gives you meaning in your work? What makes you leap out of bed in the morning?

I like to raise awareness. I think that’s one thing that I have been doing in my work. I think the first time I did that with my work was when I was approached to create a short film for a magazine and it was tackling homosexuality and masculinity. Really questioning and asking what really is masculinity. With that project I had my own interpretation of it so I basically did the opposite, using two completely straight guys showing them as two straight guys and the affection they had for each other in a very masculine way and it was not stereotypical at all. It really changed the face it [masculinity] because I questioned that it could be anything and it could be anyone and it could be for everyone so I think that’s the first time I basically raised awareness in my work and I really like the fact that it had a lot of meaning and through that I wanted to just pursue that in my world – always try to push the boundaries by raising awareness in particular things.

20 Ghana film still

What’s the last time you felt out of your comfort zone when working? What were the results of this? 

This was before I entered into making fashion films. So I applied for an internship when I first got to Amsterdam at Hearst and when I got there I remember my boss was showing me around and it was kind awkward because I asked him ‘Well the building everything’s amazing there’s no black people here, I’m like the only black guy in the whole building’ and he said ‘yeah looks like it’ and you could tell he was a little bit embarrassed but it was was it was for me. It was just important that I sort of integrated into that environment and just did me and made some meaningful relationships during the internship and it worked out fine. 

 

Why did you choose this medium to capture your videos of Ghana? 

Super 8 is a very organic medium. It’s a traditional way of filming and it goes back to the 1970s where parents used to buy it because it was consumer-friendly. The price was affordable during that time because cameras were so expensive and it was pretty much like a middle-class sport. So it creates this whole new warm feeling, the whole retro film to it is well, I so shot on Super 8 it kind of felt like the images that come out very light, nostalgic, and what I wanted to do with 20 Ghana was just capture Ghana in its essence were you see it for what it is. For what it is I do believe and gone quiet hi it’s past you to make it look of dancing and stuff because is quiet harsh with the sun and Super 8 embraces that so I really wanted to use that as my advantage and I felt like Super 8 was the best format to capture 20 Ghana in.

 

What are you hoping we the viewer will take away from 20 Ghana

I want people to be aware that Ghana is actually a really pretty place, it’s fun, it’s got its own character. It’s a nice country. I wanted to show the people that it’s got its own culture, you’ve got kids trying to do their own little business and starting things for themselves and building on that and having a successful career in what they do.

How does music influence your work, how important is it to film in your opinion? 

Music is very important. I feel like it’s very under-looked. I believe that the soundtrack that I used dates back to where the original Aftro Beats was born. My father was actually big in music Ghana at the time, the 1970s. I kind of wanted to date it back to that era and have this music to link it back. Taking it back to the olden days of Ghana and have that influence in the style. Coming back to music – it’s so important, it really sets the tone of how and what you want the images to feel like. 

 

What is your creative process? 

Usually starts with music. If I have a soundtrack in mind. It could be inspired by the sound of the ocean even. 

 

What is something you believe the world is unaware of about Ghana and the African continent in general? What stereotypes do you wish you challenge, and are there any which you think are important to acknowledge? 

What I’ve noticed especially in the UK, when you see on the main channels of TV, you always see charities asking for money for projects, you see kids with flies in their faces, you see quite a lot of distressing images just giving Africa in a negative light, and I wanted to do the opposite by actually put a positive light on that, and showing that Ghana’s not just about poverty. People are actually happy over there as well and there are some parts where it’s very advanced and people live the happiest life with less as well. 

Ebeneza Blanche

What are your favourite places in Ghana?

Dome Pillar 2 is actually a place where my mother ran a restaurant called Holland Spot so I use to hang out  there after school. It’s deep in the local parts of Accra, the main city. You actually get to see a neighbourhood of people that are very well connected to each other. Being able to grow in such a place showed me a whole different part of Ghana that felt very warm. The second place that I really like is my mother’s hometown, she lives in Takoradi, Secondi, people speak Fanti over there. It’s a very nice town and everything is close by the beach side. My mother’s home is 2 mins walk from the beach. I feel like it has a very laid back approach to life over there. It’s very nice, it’s a big transition from the UK and The Netherlands.

 

What is your hope for the future of the world, given all the uncertainties at a time like this? What gets you excited about the future? 

Things are about to change, I feel like a lot of people are raising awareness in the right direction and I’m very excited by that? 

 

How important is it to you that there is meaning behind the images/scenes you capture, do you believe in art as being a tool for change?

Yes I think it’s very important. I believe that entertainment, art, whatever format it is, I believe it’s a medium where you can raise awareness and think it’s important for people of colour right now to make meaningful art that raises awareness. I think it’s really important for people of colour because we’ve been represented so badly in the media. I think that so the future generation can have a different mindset about people of colour especially.

Listen to Ebeneza’s Afro beats playlist here:

 

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