Sankanu’s First Major Gambian Film in the Horizon
Friday, August 03, 2012
As part of the concrete results of The Gambia Investment Promotion and Diaspora Outreach Forum of 7 July 2012 in Cologne, Germany, Gambian filmmaker and theatre arts practitioner, Prince Bubacarr Aminata Sankanu, is preparing to shoot his first major international standard Gambian film in the country.
The film, “The Woman In A Black Jacket,” is Sankanu’s social commentary on the menace of rape. It chronicles the life of a female student who was brutally raped by her school mates.
She tries to forgive the rapists but when she discovers that they scandalised her name in the school and the community, she drops out. The humiliation and social stigma was too much for her to bear. Years later, she breaks the silence by doing something that makes the rapists regret the day they were born.
“For more details, one should to be part of the cast, crew and brand package or wait till after the world premier,” the Germany-based Gambian filmmaker, Sankanu, hints.
Explaining his motivation for choosing the taboo topic of rape, Prince B.A. Sankanu, the executive producer, lead male act and stand-by director of the film says, “I am born to question social taboos! You will agree with me that rape is a global problem that both men and women perpetrate. The shocking stories of war rape in the Democratic Republic of The Congo never left me. Even in sleepy peaceful nations like The Gambia, the alarming rate of rape cases shows a very serious social malaise that needs cleansing.”
According to him, some time last year, he was discussing with a Gambian lady who told him that the only thing she fears in her life is getting raped.
“I then sensed that rape is a very devastating act that can ruin the dignity of the victims, be they male or female, when not rehabilitated and I felt compelled to do something about it,” says Prince.
“As a filmmaker, the most important powerful tool I have is the cinema arts that I can use to help humanity address this problem. This current film project is part of my cinematographic trilogy on issues affecting women the most. I have a movie project on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). A third one on another gender-based taboo topic will follow as feasible.”
Prince B.A. Sankanu reveals that the pre-production process of the film started in September 2011 in Germany and the international aspects are concluded.
“The theme of the film - rape - has universal relevance and the story can be set in every chosen society worldwide. After the productive exchanges with The Gambia Government delegation in my city of Cologne and the preceding behind the scene ones with officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the National Council/Centre for Arts and Culture and the late Chair of The Standing Committee on Movie Productions and Beauty Pageants on matters of common national interests, I decided to Gambianize the film together with my competent producer and writer Ms. Lois Chukwuma, a rising Pan-African film talent in Europe,” Sankanu explains
“The names of all the characters are now Gambian or Pan-African. The movie will shoot on 32 locations in The Gambia and will prominently feature local culture, the peoples, food, hospitality, traditional wedding and honeymooning, aesthetics, landscapes, heritages, tourism and investment potentials, biodiversity, fashion and lifestyles that are relevant to the plot.”
Outlining the challenges, Prince B.A. Sankanu says, “first of all, this is a social and civic education project and not a quickie self-enrichment venture. Last June, a former Secretary General of the Office of President Jammeh (name withheld) who is now based in the UK told me via Skype and I quote “Gambians don’t appropriate productive ideas. If you want to start something useful and innovative at home they will either kill or try to destroy you...
“So the challenge here is to keep the uncivilized pull-him-down (phd) politics of lazy hypocritical detractors out of my initiatives by strictly maintaining my established political independence vis à vis The Gambia. I am politically active in Germany already and do not have the appetite to play active roles in our domestic Gambian power politics any time soon. My film is a relevant social critique that transcends ideological limitations and not a narrow political propaganda.
“Second, it is almost 15 years since I left The Gambia and I therefore need to squeeze in a preliminary working visit to the country between August and September before the production proper to digest the societal changes and the new sensitivities or redlines that could waste my time.
“Third, I need to study the 32 locations that create logistical challenges to the cast and crew not just in terms of transportation, welfare and accommodation but also in the areas of props and the specifications for the right microphones and lights. I will also need the approvals of the Ministries of Justice and The Interior to use court premises and a police station with support items for some of the law enforcement and interpretation scenes. Same applies with the regulators and stakeholders of the various Gambian entities whose locations or facilities I will be needing for the concerned interior and exterior scenes. We don’t yet have a world standard Gambian studio or film village where one can build film sets freely as one desires without much restrictions.
“Fourth, I intend to shoot the movie in High Definition (HD) format so that I can later blow it up into 35 millimeter celluloid prints for the international standard theatres and festivals. Before engaging non-Gambian director and cameramen for the HD shoot, I want to assess local capacity first. For I would like to ensure appropriate skills transfer to the participating domestic Gambian cast and crew members throughout the value chain of this film without compromising the international quality standards. I can direct it but I want to give others the chance to shine first. All these technicalities need to be finalised before September 30, 2012. Besides the ongoing Hollywood project and our impending African film festival here in Germany, I am casted to play a romantic role in the new film of the provocative Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier before traveling out of the European continent. My time is mercilessly tight.”
One more challenge Prince B.A. Sankanu sees is getting brave female talents on time. “I want the lead female act to be Gambian. If she performs well, I will give her a deal to feature in my next films both in Europe and Africa. By Gambian I mean a Pan-Africanist who fits the characterisation and is Gambian by heart, birth, heritage, marriage, naturalization or other legal means regardless of tribe, religion, region and economic status. I will only commission a non-Gambian actress when the daughters of mother Gambia prove to be too useless for the challenge. Castings will be conducted in October 2012, the African ancestors willing.”
Prince B.A. Sankanu encourages all the interested ladies to “memorise my golden rules as follows: no fake hair, no skin bleaching, no over-applied makeups, no unnecessary plastic surgery and no tattoos and piercings except the native African body paintings and scarifications. I am not looking for wannabe Virgin Marys or ibadu ninjas either. So no exaggerated religious attires please. This is a secular and liberal worldly film project. If you cannot come to the auditions like a proud and modest African lady, please stay away from my eyesight. One more rule: no British and American accents. I want original “Kamibyan Angalekagho” with Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Jola, Manjago, Sarahulleh or Serer accents and bastardisations to promote the sweet Gambian linguistic character and to justify the Gambianization of the film.”
Apart from the lead actress, there are 13 different female roles to be given. Women of all age brackets be they performance artistes or lay people are free to attend the auditions.
For the males, the roles of 4 guys as rapists and enablers are available for grabs. Pateh is the mean and rude one among them. Wayne is the talkative and womanizer. Ikem is just good at cheating on his wife and Ousu is the faithful and caring husband covering a dirty secret.
“Gambian and Gambia-based male actors and lay men who are brave enough to carry these bad roles can also come for the casting. They should know how to drive as they will portray those types of men who like showing off with their cars. Should they fit the characters without having driver’s licenses, we could train them on driving. I will play the no-nonsense Gambian police station chief who will make life difficult for them, in addition to my other behind the scene functions,” Sankanu explains.
There are additional 10 male roles to be filled. Interested men of all age groups, actors and non-actors alike, can also come for the auditions.
On the marketing potentials and benefits for The Gambia, Prince B.A. Sankanu says rape is an international challenge that concerns millions of peoples across nations, languages and religions. Producing this film in The Gambia will provide The Gambian brands cost-effective exposure to the global audiences that will patronize the movie for its emotional and captivating theme as well as quality.
He added: “There are women groups in Europe who offered to provide the film free international promotional support once he returns alive and well from The Gambia with the footage to edit in Germany according to the professional standards. The Gambia as the country of production will benefit from this promotion. Subtitling or synchronisation in German and other foreign languages for more diversified marketing is an option that could be considered with the support of distribution grants from selected German federal and state film subsidy bodies.
The film will also go on an international screening tour through key festivals and events. “Wherever I find myself with the film I will encourage the patrons to buy Made In The Gambia or visit The Gambia to enjoy the lifestyles, culture, food, history, traditions, biodiversity, tourism and investment potentials they see in it. I will proudly print the colours of our Gambian flag on the DVD sleeves and other international publicity materials of my film, “The Woman In A Black Jacket”, for a lasting national marketing legacy,” Prince B.A. Sankanu assures.
After the planned November 2012 shoot, the movie is expected to premier during the next convenient International Women’s Day, African Women’s Day or any other appropriate day with global impact. “The Woman In A Black Jacket” will be produced, marketing and distributed under the “Sankanura Afirikisobe Filmworks (SAF)” label of Prince B.A. Sankanu. SAF will be registered in The Gambia as the local subsidiary of his Germany-registered “Afromedia Film & TV International B.S. e.K” company. Those who want to be invited to the auditions or branding sessions can contact
Author: Prince B.A. Sankanu through: email: PrinceBubacarrASankanu@gmx.de, Skype: princebasankanu, SMS/Tel.: +491774842957.