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Q&A with Anthony Nti, dir. Da Yie - Clermont 2020 Grand Prize
Sunday 9 February 2020, by
A foreigner in Ghana gets an assignment from his gang to recruit kids for a risky job that will take place later that evening. He finds Prince and Matilda, two lively kids and good friends, and plans to hand them over to the gang. After spending the day with them, he starts to question his decision and how it will affect their future.
Shot on a very low budget, Anthony Nti’s Da Yie (good night)’s style is uncannily reminiscent of City of God and indeed the Brazilian film is one of his main inspirations. He masterfully uses the short format to develop fully fleshed out characters and a thrilling, well paced story that allows us to really come to care about their fates, no mean feat for a short.
Why did you choose this title?
“Da Yie”, which is Twi for “good night”, carries a double meaning in our film. First, it’s a universal way of saying goodbye before bedtime. These are the last words exchanged between the main characters, who despite going through a life-changing journey, which could’ve ended badly, wish each other well. Knowing life goes on. Secondly, our main characters arrive safe at their homes. In a literal sense, they have had a “good night”.
Is the story based on a real-life one? What sort of research did you do?
The story is a mixture of things that have happened to me and stories that I have heard. We’ve read a lot about the subject matter. It’s something that we can all relate to, being close to dangers as kids.
How familiar are you with this part of Ghana? Are you interested in exploring other themes and stories from the region?
I used to live there as a kid and it’s still a place that inspires me. My second short film, Kwaku (2014), was also shot in Ghana, which also had its premiere in Clermont-Ferrand (African Perspective). I definitely have more stories to tell in Ghana, it’s close to my heart and there are a lot of talented people there, who I’d like to work with in the future.
Can you tell us more about the co-production process between Belgium and Ghana?
It was interesting process, because we chose to produce it ourselves. We found a small Belgian crew (DP, 1AC, Sound) that was willing to go the extra mile and travel to Ghana with us. In Ghana, my family helped out where they could, as well. It was nice to see professional and non-professional cast and crew work together. Everybody was very close. A special family of its own.
Are there any works of art or films that have inspired you?
The opening is an homage to Citade to Deus. A film that inspired me to study film. But other influences slipped through as well, like Beasts of the Southern Wild or the seminal coming-of-age film, Fresh, by Boaz Yakin. I’ve also drawn from the work of Nigerian photographer, Emeka Okereke.
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
We’ve produced the film ourselves, which gave us the freedom to do anything we wanted. We’re attracted to the possibilities of what could be told in a short amount of time. We really tried to push ourselves to the limit, telling the story that we wanted, with the people that we wanted to work with.
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