Bɛnpaali Young Filmmakers Festival was launched in June 2015 to harness heritage through imaginative storytelling. Bɛnpaali (connoting a new dawn in the Builsi language of northern Ghana) is a forum for diverse artists between the ages of 15-30 to bring to light #storiesthatmatter. Bɛnpaali showcases youth art and mentors young artists during a 3-day event that features screenings, interactive workshops led by seasoned professionals from Ghana and around the world, compelling keynote discussions on the annual theme, and awards. Bɛnpaali employs a set of values that inform our team building, planning and presentations.
Why Heritage & Media Arts? In predominantly youthful Ghana and Africa, young people’s knowledge, ideas and leadership is rarely considered or integrated into public dialogue about issues affecting them. Ghana comprises over 60 ethnic groups, each with its own language, religion and culture, yet a few languages dominate public discussion. Youth artists are aware of these various realities, and as evidenced in the films submitted to the inaugural Bɛnpaali, want to examine a range of cultural and social issues. Film and media are not solely about entertainment but have the effect of being incredibly evocative. Young people are naturally curious, creative, and justice seeking, and are therefore a potent force for helping us recognize our shared humanity. In telling #storiesthatmatter, young artists explore who they are, where they come from, issues important to them and their communities, and by so doing, consider which aspects of their culture they want to harness and why. Bɛnpaali is a platform where heritage and imagination are merged, where the synergy between youth and media comes to life.
Who is an artist? Bɛnpaali is an open forum for trained and self-taught young artists. Whether live action, documentary, animated, or fiction, we encourage young artists to create using whatever tools they have at hand: tablets, smartphones, digital SLR cameras, video cameras. Bɛnpaali is looking for imaginative and technical innovation, clarity of storytelling and the potential to impact society under the annual theme.
Why and how do we recognize individual artists? Bɛnpaali Award Night is the culminating event for our 3-day festival. We applaud all artists that enter their films into our festival. During workshops and discussions we encourage and help them to sharpen their storytelling. However we also want to recognize artists that have presented especially compelling, innovative and fresh work. Each entry is viewed by an impartial jury of scholars, youth, filmmakers, journalists, and the like. They evaluate and provide comments for every film, and this feedback is used to determine three award winners. Rather than give prizes based on first, second or third place, Bɛnpaali Awards are inspired by Ghanaian leaders and pacesetters. In 2015 we honored top entries with the: