Movie Watch: The Burial of Kojo

Continuing our desire to highlight upcoming independent and foreign films we think you should be aware of, we look at a new movie from Ghana getting an American theatrical release, thanks to two very important supporters.

While researching this story, I wanted to find out how many films from Ghana have even had an American theatrical release. And while I was able to find movies like 1987’s “Cobra Verde” (Werner Herzog’s final collaboration with Klaus Kinski) or 1993’s Sankofa, which were partially shot in Ghana, I was not able to find a single movie from a Ghanaian filmmaker to have any reported grosses in the States. While I doubt Blitz Bazawule’s new film “The Burial of Kojo” is the first movie from Ghana to ever make to American theatres, it’s bothersome to see any smaller part of our global filmmaking village be so utterly ignored by one of its giant brothers. Would we have even heard of “Kojo” if it weren’t for actor Jesse Williams (“Grey’s Anatomy”) or filmmaker Ava DuVernay, both of whom added their support after hearing about the project through its Kickstarter campaign to raise production funds? Would it ever see the lens of a projector, either at festivals like New York’s Urbanworld Film Festival or Los Angeles’s Pan African Film Festival or in select theatres later this month, or get acquired for streaming by Netflix, without them? We’ll never know, but considering the number of Ghana films to make it to these shores, it’s safe to say “probably not.”

Inspired by a newspaper article that the now Brooklyn-based filmmaker and musician read while visiting relatives back home in Ghana, “Kojo” tells the fact-based story about a young girl, Esi (Cynthia Dankwa), as as she recounts her childhood and the tumultuous relationship between her father, Kojo (Joseph Otsiman) and her uncle, Kwabena (Kobina Amissah-Sam). Seven years earlier, Kojo had caused a car accident that ended up killing Kwabena’s bride on their wedding day, which leaves the grieving groom devising an elaborate plan to seek revenge. Kwabena, seeing his opportunity to exact his own kind of justice, lures Kojo to an abandoned mine, knocks his brother unconscious and leaves him in the mine shaft to die. Without any food or water, Kojo must find a way to escape, while his wife and a local detective to their best to locate him. Weaving African mythology and social political issues into a stunning tapestry punctuated by both drama and dreams, “The Burial of Kojo” promises to be a fascinating look in to a world rarely seen half a planet away.

Ana DuVernay’s Array Releasing will release the film in to select theatres on March 29th, and will debut on Netflix two days later. You can learn more about the film at its official website. Check out the teaser trailer below.