Ghana film(s) for the Oscar - A difficult venture!

18 May 2017


The Academy of Motion Picture And Sciences (AMPAS), which organises the most prestigious and highly-revered film awards in the world, also known as the Oscar, is set to give Ghana an opportunity of getting recognised at the highest stage.

Guess what - it has taken us 90 years to attain such an opening to showcase what we have as a nation in terms of film making.

The situation has not been gloomy for Africa, in connection to getting recognition at the Oscars as four countries have, in the past 60 years made a good representation for Africa in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category; Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa.

The Academy has given the mandate for a Committee in Ghana to sit, review and present one film that would represent the choice of the country in competing with other countries for the opportunity to win the category.

The Best Foreign Language Film Award is not presented to a specific individual. It is accepted by the winning film's director but is considered an award for the submitting country as a whole.

Over the years, the Best Foreign Language Film Award and its predecessors have been given almost exclusively to European films: out of the 68 Awards handed out by the Academy since 1947 to foreign language films, 56 have gone to European films, 5 to Asian films, 3 to African films and 3 to films from the Americas.

How to get the movie at the Oscar

The category definition for the Best Foreign Language film Award is; “ Defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined for over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track. Animated and documentary feature films are permitted.”

In order to be nominated for the award, the movie has to be in a language other than English. If the movie has too much English dialogue, it won’t make it. However, there must be an accurate, legible English Language subtitles.

The film must have been first released in Ghana during the eligibility period defined by the rules of the Academy and must have been exhibited for at least, seven consecutive days in a commercial movie theatre.

Any movie being submitted by Ghana must show that the country exhibited sufficient artistic control over it – meaning, the production house, the director, other technical hands and actors in that movie must be from Ghana.

The eligibility year for the 90th Academy Awards is October 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017.

According to the Academy, submissions must be in 35mm or 70mm film or in a 24- or 48- progressive scan Digital Cinema format with a minimum projector resolution of 2048 by 1080 pixels, source image format conforming to ST 428-1:2006 D-Cinema Distributor Master. Image characteristics – image compression (if used) conforming to ISO/IEC 15444-1 JPEG (2000); and image and sound format suitable for commercial motion picture theatre.

The audio must be in a Digital Cinema Package (DCP), typically in 5.1 or 7.1 channels of discrete audio. The minimum of a non-mono configuration of the audio must be Left, Center, Right.

The Academy Awards state that the movie must be first publicly exhibited for at least 7 consecutive times in a commercial motion picture theatre for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.

A 14-member Committee has been formed to oversee the submission and selection of a Ghanaian film for the Oscars, which is being spearheaded by accomplished Ghanaian filmmaker, Leila Djansi.

The voting for the Best Foreign Language Film Award is in 4 phases; both local and international.

The Ghana Committee for the Foreign Language Film will go through their own process of reviewing the submitted movies based on the rules and regulations of the Academy. They will then submit just 1 movie from Ghana to compete with thousands of other movies submitted by other countries.

In the USA, the Foreign Language film Award Committee will view the eligible submissions and vote via secret ballot to select 9 short-listed films.

The Committee will sit again, review the 9 movies and cut it down to 5 films.

Final voting shall be restricted to only active and life Academy members who have viewed all 5 motion pictures nominated for the award.