The Burial of Kojo, an original Ghanaian movie, has just won the Grand Prize for Best Narrative Feature at the Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt. This comes barely a month after Ava DuVernay, an African American director, scriptwriter, producer, marketer, and distributor Ava announced on Twitter that she’d made it possible for The Burial of Kojo to premiere on Netflix through her company, Array, on March 31, 2019.
The movie follows the tumultuous story of Esi as she recounts her childhood and the stormy relationship between her father, Kojo and her uncle, Kwabena. It is a personal and intimate narrative that gives the audience a glimpse into a Ghanaian family dealing with love, loss, tragedy, betrayal, and sibling rivalry.
Kojo causes a car accident that tragically kills Kwabena's bride on their wedding day. Kwabena in turn, devices an elaborate plan to seek revenge 7 years later. He lures Kojo to an abandoned mine, knocks him unconscious and leaves him in the mine shaft to die. Kojo must survive with no food and water, while his wife and local detective race against time to find him.
It is a phenomenal movie with a great storyline that also touches on various themes and aspects of the Ghanaian society such as the gold mining challenges that the country is facing. For Blitz Bazawule, the movie's writer and producer, the genesis of the movie was a newspaper article that he read during his trip to Ghana sometime in 2016. He recounts:
It all began with a newspaper article. The text was bold and direct…."Galamsey Miners Buried Alive.” That headline stopped me dead in my tracks. For those unfamiliar with Galamsey, it's a local term for illegal gold mining, an extremely dangerous practice with little financial reward and irreversible environmental consequences."
I became obsessed with understanding why young men and women risked their lives 30 ft underground, only to be paid a fraction of what the gold was worth. I visited the mining towns of Tarkwa and Prestea to do some research. The more I dug, the more apparent it became who really controlled the illegal gold mining industry in Ghana. Chinese companies assisted by local Chiefs really run the show, operating in the shadows while young local miners suffered all the risks and backlash."
We also produced our own Mexican Telenovela 'Puebla Mi Amor' which our characters in 'The Burial Of Kojo' watched. Anyone who knows Ghanaians knows we love Telenovelas. So, instead of licensing an already made Telenovela, we decided to shoot our own. This allowed us to create a parallel narrative between what was happening to our characters and what was happening on their TV."
Blitz Bazawule, popularly called Blitz The Ambassador, took to Twitter to thank all the fans and his team for their hard work and dedication. He wrote:
Excited to announce @TheBurialOfKojo just won the Grand Prize for Best Narrative Feature at the Luxor African Film Festival!!! Congrats to the whole team. We continue to make History.”
The movie was also co-produced by actress Ama K. Abebrese and Kwaku Obeng Boateng.
The Burial of Kojo will be the first Ghanaian movie to be premiered on the popular movie streaming site Netflix.