TRIPLE CONSCIOUSNESS: Films by Akosua Adoma Owusu
2019, 96 minutes
Akosua Adoma Owusu is a Ghanaian-American filmmaker, producer and cinematographer whose award-winning films and installation work address the collision of identities, where the African immigrant located in the United States has a "triple consciousness.” Owusu interprets Du Bois’ notion of double consciousness and creates a third cinematic space or consciousness, representing diverse identities including feminism, queerness and African immigrants interacting in African, white American, and black American culture.
Owusu's films have screened worldwide in prestigious film festivals, museums, galleries and universities.
This edition includes thirteen of her short films:
Ajube Kete (2005, 6 minutes)
Part documentary, part fiction, Ajube Kete is positioned as a day in the life of a West African girl. Filmed in the village of Kumasi, Ghana the story follows a young girl as she works on chores throughout the day. The girl attempts to complete her chores amidst ridicule by older voices heard off-screen.
Tea 4 Two (2006, 2 minutes)
Beautiful Chrissy plays with Miss Mary Mack.
Intermittent Delight (2007, 5 minutes)
The intersection of identity and cultural appropriation is at the heart of Akosua Adoma Owusu's video Intermittent Delight. This carefully constructed work juxtaposes close-ups of batik textiles, fashion and design from the 1950s and 1960s, images of men weaving and women sewing in Ghana, and fragments of a Westinghouse 1960s commercial—aimed to instruct women on the how-to of refrigerator decoration. Constructed from a combination of 1960s Afrobeat, traditional Asante Adwoa music, and field recordings of West African men and women during production of cloths and garments, the soundtrack pulls the piece together and imbues it with a jolty and festive tone. The work touches upon the idea of feminism's uneven geographical and historical development, and the nuances of labor conditions women face depending on where they live.
Boyant: A Michael Jordan In a Speedo Is Far Beyond the Horizon (2008, 4 minutes)
Michael Jordan learns how to swim.
Me Broni Ba (2009, 22 minutes)
Me Broni Ba is a lyrical portrait of hair salons in Kumasi, Ghana. The tangled legacy of European colonialism in Africa is evoked through images of women practicing hair braiding on discarded white baby dolls from the West. The film unfolds through a series of vignettes, set against a child's story of migrating from Ghana to the United States. The film uncovers the meaning behind the Akan term of endearment, me broni ba, which means “my white baby.”
Drexciya (2011, 12 minutes)
A portrait of an abandoned public swimming facility located in Accra, Ghana set on the Riviera. The Riviera at one time was an upscale development, consisting of luxury high-rises and five star hotels. Since the 1970s, the Riviera has fallen into a disheveled state. This short documentary was inspired by afro-futurist myths propagated by the underground Detroit-based band Drexciya. They suggest that Drexciya is a mythical underwater subcontinent populated by the unborn children of African women thrown overboard during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. These children have adapted and evolved to breathe underwater.
Split Ends, I Feel Wonderful (2012, 4 minutes)
Playful yet powerful, Akosua Adoma Owusu’s Split Ends, I Feel Wonderful focuses on African American women’s hair, spinning found footage of 1970s New York hair salons and hairstyles into a dense collage of gesture, image, and contemporary resonance
Kwaku Ananse (2013, 26 minutes)
Drawing upon the rich mythology of Ghana, this magical short film combines semi-autobiographical elements with local folklore to tell the story of a young American woman who returns to West Africa for her father’s funeral, only to discover his hidden double identity.
Bus Nut (2015, 7 minutes)
Bus Nut re-articulates the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, a political and social protest against US racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery Alabama and its relationship to an educational video on school bus safety.
Reluctantly Queer (2016, 8 minutes)
This epistolary short film invites us into the unsettling life of a young Ghanaian man struggling to reconcile his love for his mother with his love for same-sex desire amid the increased tensions incited by same-sex politics in Ghana. Focused on a letter that is ultimately filled with hesitation and uncertainty, Reluctantly Queer both disrobes and questions what it means to be queer for this man in this time and space.
Mahogany Too (2018, 3 minutes)
Inspired by Nollywood’s distinct re-imagining in the form of sequels, Mahogany Too, interprets the 1975 cult classic, Mahogany, a fashion-infused romantic drama. Starring Nigerian actress Esosa E., Mahogany Too, examines and revives Diana Ross’ iconic portrayal of Tracy Chambers, a determined and energetic African-American woman enduring racial disparities while pursuing her dreams. Mahogany Too uses analog film to achieve its vintage tones which emphasizes the essence of the character, re-creating Tracy’s qualities through fashion, modeling, and styling.
On Monday of Last Week (2018, 14 minutes)
Set in an urban home, On Monday of Last Week follows Kamara, a Nigerian woman, working as a nanny caring for Josh, the five-year old son of Tracy and Neil, an interracial couple. Tracy is an African American artist working on a commission in her basement studio - a space she rarely leaves. The absence of Josh's mother, Tracy intrigues Kamara. When Tracy finally emerges from her studio one afternoon, Kamara's growing curiosity is piqued. Their brief encounter inspires Kamara to become Tracy’s muse.
Pelourinho: They Don't Really Care About Us (2019, 9 minutes)
The starting point for this colourful film is a letter from human rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois to the American embassy in Brazil. The fact that in 1927 it was impossible for African Americans to travel to Brazil reminds us of the inequality still faced by that country’s black inhabitants.