Fiction has a way of mirroring reality in a variety of meaningful ways. Good stories point to truths of all kinds and it’s through a magical realist lens that The Burial of Kojo does precisely that. This is a beautiful film following the story of Esi, as she recounts her childhood and the tumultuous relationship between her father, Kojo and her uncle, Kwabena.
Blitz the Ambassador is the stage name of Blitz Bazawule, a Ghanaian-American hip-hop artist, filmmaker, and visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY. He talks to Face2Face host David Peck talk about his new film The Burial of Kojo, African film making and story telling, magic and allegory, paradox, guilt and genetic memory and truthful moments.
It began with a simple newspaper article Blitz read while visiting his family in Ghana several years ago. The text was bold and direct…."Galamsey Miners Buried Alive." That headline stopped him dead in his 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. He then became obsessed with understanding why young men and women risked their lives 30 feet underground, only to be paid a fraction of what the gold was worth.
Directed by TED fellow, music composer and musician Blitz Bazawule, the film chronicles the tale of two brothers through the gifted eyes of a young girl who transports the audience to the beautiful lands of Ghana and other worlds that exist between life and death. Born from a newspaper article and a Kickstarter campaign, Bazawule skillfully captures the beauty of a family, even when the circumstances aren't beautiful. The Burial of Kojo is an essential human story of courage and survival.
And it's now streaming on Netflix.
In the words of the film maker: "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. I knew immediately this was a story worth telling. However, I didn't want to focus on the obvious theme of victimization. I wanted to craft a narrative that was personal and intimate, giving the audience a glimpse into a Ghanaian family dealing with love, loss, tragedy, betrayal and sibling rivalry."
About the Director: Blitz Bazawule is a Filmmaker and Musician born in Ghana and based in New York. Blitz's short films Native Sun and Diasporadical Trilogìa premiered at New Voices in Black Cinema and Blackstar Film Festival respectively. Blitz is also the founder of Africa Film Society, an organization focused on the preservation of classic African films.
As a composer and musician, Blitz has released 4 studio albums, Stereotype, Native Sun, Afropolitan Dreams and Diasporadical.
Blitz's feature directorial debut The Burial Of Kojo premiered at Urbanworld Film Festival presented by HBO. Blitz is a TED fellow and recipient of the Vilcek Prize.
Image Copyright: Blitz the Ambassador and Array Films. Used with permission.
F2F Theme Music: David Peck and Face2Face.
For more information about David Peck’s podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.
With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.
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