Black American model Mona, averse from America’s history of slavery, is taking part in a photo shoot at a Ghanaian slave fort. A mystical drummer, calling on the spirits of enslaved ancestors to return home, puts her into a trance. She is transformed into Shola, a slave woman on a plantation in the South of the United States. There, she too undergoes the horrors and the many moral and psychological traumas those men, women and children had to endure. As the meaning of the word sankofa suggests, symbolised by a bird looking backward, she returns to the present wiser, thanks to her knowledge of the past.
With this trailblazing film, Gerima did away with the nostalgic romanticising of slavery as presented in American cultural expressions, particularly cinema. Sankofa is an influential work in African Diaspora cinema and also consolidated Gerima’s principled position as an independent filmmaker.
Director
Haile Gerima
Countries of production
USA, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Germany
Production Year
1993
Festival Edition
IFFR 2018
Length
125'
Medium
35mm
Language
English
Producer
Haile Gerima
Sales
UCLA Film and Television Archive
Cinematography
Augustin Cubano
Editor
Haile Gerima
Production Design
Kerry Marshall
Sound Design
Don White
Music
David J. White
Cast
Kofi Ghanaba, Oyafunmike Ogunlano, Alexandra Duah, Nick Medley, Mutabaruka, Afemo Omilami, Reggie Carter