Cinema Collections in Ghana

Film Library at Cinema Section, Information Services Department (ISD)
The Information Services Department Film Library was started during the colonial era when the British began using film to distribute information to the Gold Coast colony. The ISD Film Library started as the collection of films that were used in the roving cinema vans. Most of these early films were made in Britain but a few were actually made in what was then the Gold Coast. After independence the film collection continued to grow and was used by schools and community organizations throughout the nation.

The ISD Film Library houses the largest collection of celluloid film in Ghana. There are approximately 5,568 film reels in the ISD Film Library collection. The collection consists of 35mm and 16mm film and a small amount of ¼ in. open reel audiotape. There also are a few 35mm slides, gramophones and some 35mm filmstrips. Based on a visual inspection of the libraries holdings approximately half of the films in the collection seem to have been produced outside of Ghana. Many of the films are unique and can be found nowhere else in the world, especially those films produced in Ghana. These films date back to the 1940s with the British initiated film campaigns in the Gold Coast colony to sometime in the 90s when film production in Ghana phased out and video became the predominate mode of audiovisual distribution in the country. The films in the collection range from state sponsored educational films to dramatic narratives. In 1996, when Ghana Film Industry Corporation [GFIC], the state production unit, was privatized, the films from the GFIC collection were salvaged and added to the ISD Film Library collection for safe-keeping.

The ISD Film Library was actively used until the early 1990s when borrowing stopped completely. At it’s most active the library had over thirty employees, now only two people directly work with the collection, the head of the collection, Patience Allotey and her assistant, Edward Gyane Effah. Patience Allotey has worked at the Information Services Department for over 30 years.

Tape Library at TV3 / GAMA
Collection of videotape mainly of TV3’s productions, however many early celluloid films were transferred to VHS and Betacam before the celluloid film was disposed and still exist on video in the Tape Library collection.

Tape Archive at Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC)
Ghana Broadcasting Corporation is the public broadcaster in Ghana. It was founded in 1954 as the Gold Coast Broadcasting System. Its name was changed to it’s current name in 1957 upon the country’s independence. GBC holds the largest collection of videotape in Ghana. Early films and videos were destroyed in 1989 during a massive fire. However, post 1989 materials survive and are stored in two locations at the GBC studios: the Tape Library where more recent productions are stored, and the Tape Archive where earlier inaccessible formats are stored.

There are 859 open reel 1 inch videotapes in the Tape Archive, mainly containing original GBC programs. In addition to the 1 inch videotapes there are approximately 9,000 U-matic tapes ranging from commercials and foreign programing to local sports events. Many of the collection is currently unidentifiable because of a lack of playback equipment though there are several identifiable Ghanaian programs such as a collection of adult educational programs in several Ghanaian languages. There is a small collection of 16mm film, mostly donated from European, Russian and Japanese nations. However, one film reel, entitled “Police Work in Ghana” (1982), indicates that it has historic significance for Ghana.

Library at National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI)
Collection of works on celluloid and videotape. Largely student and instructor productions.

Education Department at National Museum of Ghana
Small collection of celluloid and videotape documenting cultural events at the museum or cultural film productions for use in the museum’s educational programs.

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One Response to Cinema Collections in Ghana

  1. Anita says:

    So I have read a couple of your write ups and I think your research is in depth and interesting to say the least. I enjoyed working with you the other day and good luck.

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