BISATVONLINE proudly celebrates one of Ghana’s academia and veteran filmmaker Dr. Jim Fara Awindor; the lovely husband of Nana Adwoa Awindor of Greetings from Abroad fame and a proud father the sensational Queen of Ghana music Jane ‘Efya’ Awindor, as he celebrates his birthday today.
Dr. JIM FARA AWINDOR’s PROFILE
Jim Fara Awindor is the Dean of the Kojo Yankah School of Communications at the African University College of Communications (AUCC) and holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree (Columbia College, USA) in Film and Video and a PhD. (UDS, Ghana) in Endogenous Development. He is a Fulbright Scholar, a researcher and filmmaker whose works have won him a Grand Prix and Gold Awards at local and international Film Festivals, and the Rose Bud Academic Award (Columbia, USA). He is the president and founding member of the Ghana Academy of Film and Television Arts (GAFTA), an umbrella body for 10 notable film guilds in Ghana.
Fara Awindor attended the National Film and Television institute (NAFTI) and studied film directing. He specialized in Documentary Filmmaking for his MFA. He is also a prolific writer who has published and written several papers on various film topics, which includes; Transdisciplinary Methods in Documentary Filmmaking (a book Chapter); Audio-Visual Archiving in Ghana; Stereotyping in Ghanaian Movies: The Northern Character; The ‘Auteurship’ of Ousmane Sembene. He has written and directed close to a hundred fiction, documentaries and corporate documentaries, mostly through his company Premier Productions, which he shares ownership with his wife. Notable ones include; “SWAPP Oil Palm Project” Documentary on Oil Palm in West Africa, “Biogas” A documentary film about renewable energy (A researched Documentary film with the Ministry of Energy), “90 years: Geological Survey in Ghana” A country Profile, “Creating Wealth” A documentary on the Programme of Action to mitigate the Social Cost of Adjustment (PAMSCAD) in Ghana, “50 years of UN in Ghana”, “Condemned” A documentary film on the effects of surface mining In Ghana, ‘’25 years of UNFPA in Ghana’’– A documentary film on Reproductive Health, Maternal Mortality and youth sexuality in Ghana: The state of UNFPA 3rd Country Initiative, ‘’An Honest Reality” A documentary on the History of Cinema in Ghana. There are some other self-initiated documentaries which includes, “The Tanoso Healer” A profile of a Traditional Healer, “Bayaa” An ethnographic film on an Ancient burial system in the North of Ghana, ‘’Plastic Blues and the Rastafarian Movement in Ghana, which are both in the post-production stage. Dr. Awindor has also done some fiction works that have won awards at NAFTI and Special Mentions, which are, ‘’Alokodongo’’ and ‘’Sidding Bongo’’– a three-part fiction on youth sexuality sponsored by John’s Hopkins University and UNPA. Also Fara has been involved in other television programmes throughout his career as filmmaker. He worked seriously with Premier Productions to produce their flagship programme, ‘Greetings from Abroad’ which revolutionized video messaging on TV. This programme did more than just showcase greetings but brought together families, healed wounds and connected Ghanaians to their motherland through businesses and other investments. This programme spanned 20 years as a TV series in Ghana. Fara also directed about seven Episodes of the ‘Inspector Bediako TV series, directed the Pepsodent Health Guide, which was then an authoritative programme on various health issues hosting experts in the field of health.
Listed below are some of his contributions and experiences as a film scholar, producer and director:
• ‘African Cinema Aesthetics and How to Teach it’ : Presentation at Wits School of Arts Film Division, Jo’burg, to faculty members and Master students
• Ethnic Stereotyping And Representation: The Northern Character- Presented at the 1st Legon International Film Event, University of Ghana, Dept. of Theatre and Performing Arts
• National Cinema: Creating Media Products with Essence (2011): Guest speaker at Iranian Film Week
• Mashariki Summer School, Nairobi, Kenya (Speaker- Idea Generation for Film)
• Moderator at INPUT (International Public Television) Conference, Bangkok, Thailand
• Five-Day Residency programme (Teaching), Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg.
• Moderator at Summer School (African Story Telling) in Konrad Wolf University, Babelsberg, Germany
• Moderator at INPUT (International Public Television) Conference, Brooklyn, NY, USA
• Member- INPUT Program Selection Committee, Berlin, Germany
• Coordinator- Workshop on Election Reporting, Accra
• Coordinator-INPUT Conference – Tokyo, Japan
• Participant-The “Teaching of Documentary Films” Conference, South Wales, U.K.
• Researcher & Participant-World Healers Conference, Bangalore, India
• Participant- The DOCKANEMA Documentary Conference Maputo, Mozambique:
• Participant- CILECT (Association of World Film Schools) Congress, Barcelona, Spain.
• FESPACO & Colloquium: Presentation of Paper on Film School Education
• Participant- CILECT Congress & CARA meeting , Helsinki, Finland
• The Teaching of Documentary Filmmaking from an African perspective” (2002): Conference paper Presented at CILECT CONFERENCE, Melbourne, Australia
• “The State of Cinema in Ghana” (1994): Presentation in the USA visitor’s programme for filmmakers
• Film contents and the Role of Film in the Development of a Nation” (2010): Guest Speaker at Africa Day Celebration, Du Bois Centre, Accra)
• “African Cinema and its Future”:Presentation at the launch of MNET African Movie Channel in Ghana
Fara Awindor has contributed immensely to curricular and to the learning environment at NAFTI and other universities in Ghana teaching various courses in film and television. He has had a stint of teaching services at the University of Cape Coast film and Theatre Department, Central University Communications department, NYU Accra Campus and at Ashesi’s summer school programme.
At NAFTI where he taught close to two decades, Jim facilitated and strengthened the international relations office of the institute through its membership with the world body of film schools called CILECT. He was instrumental in making NAFTI a recipient of the prestigious FULBRIGHT scholarship, of which he was its first awardee. Fara’s love for NAFTI made him devote his time and resources to the development of students and the institute as a whole. He has facilitated exchange programmes and workshops in collaboration with the U.S Embassy, the Germany Cultural Institute (GOETHE), Alliance Francais and China for NAFTI. Throughout his teaching career at NAFTI he designed two courses that are of essence today and one of which is a specializing one, the documentary film course. He is currently involved in other projects such as the International Public Television Mini Festivals (INPUT) that supports the learning environment at NAFTI, through GOETHE and the Film School Network, where various collaborations help develop student’s skills in producing stories in the web. Through this Filmschool Network Dr. Awindor has shared knowledge with colleagues and students through summer schools and residencies in Germany (Konrad Wolf University) and South Africa (Witts) respectively.
Currently he is working on a Documentary research project focusing on Indigenous Land Systems with a Fulbright Scholar from the U.S in the Northern part of Ghana, and the development of a Digital Film School funded by German Cooperation and hosted at AUCC, with DW Film Academie, DFFB-Berlin and Welt Film as partners.
God bless you for the impact of knowledge you are giving the film industry in Ghana, on this day of your birthday, the Bisatvgh family prays the Almighty God blesses you more with long life and health. Long live the enormous Dr. Jim Fara Awindor