DER Documentary

J.C. Abbey, Ghana's Puppeteer

From the Jazz Cosmopolitanism In Accra series
by Steven Feld and the Anyaa Arts Kollektif
color, 55 min, 2016
in English, Ga, Ewe, Fante, Twi
with English, French, Italian subtitles



This film documents an exceptional fifty-year artistic career, from Accra's streets to Ghana's villages to international TV. In fifteen delightful puppet shows, Mr. Abbey is joined by musicians Nii Noi Nortey and NiiOtoo Annan and filmmakers Nii Yemo Nunu and Steven Feld to chronicle Ghana's music since independence in 1957. The marionettes perform ethnic songs, dances and stories, but equally the sounds of highlife, Afrojazz, Afro-rock, reggae, and contemporary hiplife. The innovative soundtrack includes historical documents from radio, TV and broadcast, and LP, as well as new compositions commissioned and performed to playback.

This fifth feature in the Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra series mixes styles of historical documentary and contemporary music video. Through the pleasures of performance it reveals the cosmopolitan politics that intertwine ethnic, traditional, national, and global musical styles in Ghana today.

Part of the Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra Series

Related Resources
Filmmaker Site
Video: Ghana's Puppeteer: J.C. Abbey & His Troupe, discussion by Steven Feld, UCSB Professor of History Stephan Miescher, Professor of Music David Novak, and editor Jeremiah Richards

Other Films in the Jazz Cosmopolitanism In Accra series
Accra Trane Station
A Por Por Funeral for Ashirifie
The Story of Por Por

Related Films
Jean-Michel Kibushi: Palabres Animées du Griot

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