Earlier this year we put out a list of 10 film projects you should expect to see this year. The Burial of Kojo was one of the titles on that list and we have been itching to see if it would meet our expectations. Several months down the line and after the tormenting wait, we finally got to see this revolutionary work of art by a Ghanaian, that is already taking the rest of the world by storm.
The story is narrated in English by an older Esi played by Ama K Abebrese, who recounts her childhood and the tumultuous relationship between her father, Kojo and her uncle, Kwabena. After Kojo goes missing on an illegal mining expedition with Kwabena, Esi guided by her dreams and imaginations embarks on a magical adventure to rescue her father before it is too late.
For a drama with thriller elements, the film sucks you in right from the start with the stunning opening visuals that sort of prepares you for the ride. Not the grueling kind, but rather, a soothing one that meanders the borders of magic, realism and spirituality in a cocktail of captivating sights and sounds.
The cast are absolutely amazing in their delivery and interpretation of their roles. Kobina Sam stars as Kwabena, the elder brother who’s strong will is questionable. Joseph Otsiman plays Kojo, a young father who carries a burden on his heart and mind whilst struggling to make things better for his wife and child. Mamley Djangmah plays his beautiful wife who isn’t much of a talker but certainly passionate about her family. And there is their daughter Esi, played by Cynthia Dankwa, the gifted, lively one who is guided by her dreams and imaginations that seems to hold all the answers to the tumultuous relationship between her father and her uncle that goes beyond just the physical.
For some parts of the film, the story is told in silence and you have to rely on the flawlessly delivery of emotions through the expressions and eyes of the characters accompanied by the films beguiling sound score. Afterall, emotions and storytelling go hand in hand and this film finds a way to keep the balance of both on the same levels from start to finish.
The films central story feels more intimate and direct yet still manages to touch on a plethora of subjects like illegal small-scale mining (galamsey), religion and faith. For some, the focus would be on just the story of the two brothers and how Esi narrates it. But it would still be difficult to blur out the subtle yet weighty issue of how the Chinese have virtually taken over Ghana with the help of galamsey and how we are also partly to be blamed for this.
Clearly, no detail was compromised on in this film. The beauty in the visuals are pleasing to the eyes. You can easily distinguish between the tranquil nature of life in the village on the water and life in the city which is relatively gritty and bustling. The sound is equally pleasing taking into account the need for clarity in dialogue for the viewer to better appreciate the fante language used in the speech. The special effects and visual effects are all flawlessly executed to give the film its refined magical identity. Even the snippets of the telenovela that the characters are seen watching a home was well thought out and done and you could easily mirror that telenovela’s story to the main story being narrated by Esi.
Admittedly, the story gets a bit confusing especially as it edges to the climax, nothing far from what you would expect when themes like magical realism and spirituality are involved. But it still leaves you with some unanswered questions that encourages you to want to delve deeper into the story and its complex themes and how they seemed to relate.
This directorial debut from Blitz Bazawule scored an impressive 9/10 rating after pass it through our rating scale. Clearly an avant-garde film as compared to anything that we have seen made here by a Ghanaian over the years. It delivers on the magical experience it promises whilst telling a story that is very close to home.
One thing is for certain, we need more films like this, films that seamlessly blend visuals with poetry and emotions. Films that do not only show a better part of us as a people but, also the true beauty that lies in our sometimes-crude ways. Films that speak well off or creativity and uniqueness as a people whilst taking charge of all the narratives that tend to dim our inner light.
The Burial of Kojo is that beacon of hope that exists to remind us of our true potentials as creatives with the power to change the narratives if only we continue to push harder and strive for perfection. Blitz and his team set out to create a truly refreshing audiovisual experience that paints a better picture of our film space to the rest of the world. They stayed true to it, put in the work and the end result is affirmatively startling to say the least.
Blitz Bazawule’s voice as a creative visionary is heard clearly in this film and should be an inspiration for a lot of our creatives. We can be better than we settle for and its imperative that we work harder regardless of the many challenges.
If you are yet to see this film, don’t hesitate to go check it out when next its screening anywhere near you. You are guaranteed a Ghanaian cinematic experience like none other.
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