As in other countries, the proliferation of DVD technology also devastated historic movie houses such as the Rex. However, the impact has been more acute in Ghana, which is flooded by straight-to-DVD productions from Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, which pumps out more than 1,000 titles per year.
Mark Amoonaquah, owner of the Roxy in Accra, said he held on as long as he could, showing movies to the dozen or so people who would sit on the outdoor cinema’s faded blue benches.
Ultimately he had to close temporarily, he said, because unless “a strange movie or a very interesting movie” came out, Ghanaians had effectively abandoned going to the cinema.
Owusu’s films bear little of the shaky camerawork and screaming matches that typify Ghana’s current indigenous productions.
Her latest film, Kwaku Ananse, is a semi-autobiographical imagination of an old Ghanaian folktale and was awarded best short film at this year’s African Movie Academy Awards.
Owusu organized a special screening a local French cultural institute for the film’s debut.
Her next work, she hopes, will open at a renovated Rex.
“I think it would be like the mecca, the place to be,” Owusu said. “Who knows? Perhaps it could make a trend of reviving cinema houses all over that are abandoned.”