Yesterday at the Accra Tourism Information Centre, the Board of the National Film Authority inaugurated the Classification Committee in the presence of stakeholders of the film industry of Ghana and the media. The Classification Committee is mandated by the constitution of Ghana to preview and classify any feature film, documentary and advertisement that is intended for viewership for its suitability for the Ghanaian public. However, the Chairman of the National Film Authority David Dontoh, explained that it is the duty of the committee to censure and allocate appropriate viewing times based on the content and not to censor. The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Hon. Barbara Oteng – Gyasi said that the work of the committee will impact positively the development of film in Ghana. The newly appointed Chairman of the committee Socrates Safo, assured the Minister that he and his team were up to the task.
The Chairman of the National Film Authority David Dontoh, together with members of the Board of the National Film Authority, yesterday officially outdoored the members of the Classification Committee and commissioned them to begin work. He also sounded a word of correction to the assumption on the duty of the Classification Committee. “The 1992 Constitution of Ghana actually allows for freedom of expression which is a democratic right that no government can take from you. And so, whatever material you produce we need to classify it. And, during classification, if it is not suitable, a provision is made for it under the classification guidelines, and that’s why the Classification Committee does not censor but censure; which means expressing your opinion or giving your judgement on something without taking anything out of it”, he explained.
Also present was the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Hon. Barbara Oteng – Gyasi, who described the work of the Classification Committee as a necessary contribution to the growth of the Film industry in Ghana. “I am confident that the establishment of the Classification Committee will open a new chapter in the development of Ghana’s film industry. The work of the Classification Committee will ensure that the impact of our cultural, economic, historical, political and technological dimensions would change the narrative of film making in Ghana to enhance the quality and classification of films to protect viewers in the best interest of the country”, she said.
Finally, the newly appointed Chairman of the Classification Committee film maker and film advocate Socrates Safo, said the responsibility of the Classification Committee was a matter of urgency as it was linked to the future of Ghana, nevertheless, he and his team are ready for the job. “On behalf of my colleagues and the committee, I want to say thank you for the honor and the task you have given us. I understand the challenge, likewise my colleagues, and I promise you and the whole industry that we will deliver. Since research has proven that we are what we watch, I am therefore afraid for the future of our children and this is what gives me motivation to fight for them. We are the gatekeepers and it is our duty to ensure that we don’t loose our identity; despite the fact that we want our content to be shown abroad. Therefore, we will protect what is Ghanaian”, he said.
The Chairman of the National Film Authority David Dontoh, added that the Board’s sub committee’s submission of a very comprehensive set of guidelines capturing those prescribed by law and others, will serve as the criteria or benchmarks designed for the categorization, standardization and ultimately classification. He said hard copies of these guidelines would be made available to stakeholders, the public and other parties. He added that very soon the document Will be accessible from the website of the National Film Authority which will be operational soon.
By Jerry Wonder