We have been following, for quite a while now, the career of the extraordinary filmmaker and artist Akosua Adoma Owusu, who films are in the permanent collections of both the Whitney Museum in New York and the Fowler Museum at UCLA.
Last summer, for example, Tambay reported (HERE) on her experimental feature film, “Black Sunshine,” when it was selected as one of four films to receive production financing from the World Cinema Fund, which is an initiative of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Berlin International Film Festival, and the Goethe-Institut-Film.
And as I’ve said before about Ms. Owusu, her goal, is to use her work to “… open audiences up to a new dialogue between the continents of Africa and America; one that incorporates more than just stereotypes, but includes both conventionalized and un-conventionalized discourses of race in its service. By creating complex contradictions.”
She also hopes that, through her filmmaking that “a new meaning can emerge and be deposited into the universal consciousness. If I can do this by creating an experience for the audience that enables them to experience what it is like to find oneself, while being foreign in a community, then perhaps I can help that new meaning come to light.”
Born in Virginia to Ghanaian parents, Ms. Owusu got her MFA in Film, Video and Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts, and has established an international reputation as an experimential filmmaker and artist of note, whose numerous works have been screened worldwide at film festivals, museums, movie theaters, art galleries, and universities. And she was named by The Huffington Post as one of their “30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know.”
And now Ms. Owusu has received a new honor, awarded this month, from the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, presented to scholars, scientists and artists every year, “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.”
Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, said of this year’s 175 fellowship awardees: “The best of the best… It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”
Needless to say, Ms. Owusu is “very honored and excited” about this new honor, but she is not resting on her laurels. She also has a new short film project titled “Bus Nut,” which is currently traveling the international film festival circuit.
The film, starring MaameYaa Boafo from the web series, “An African City,” takes what Ms. Owusu calls a “fresh look” at the 1955 Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, and juxtaposes recreated images and the words of Rosa Parks, against an educational video about public school bus safety.
Ms Boafo shared that it was powerful and jarring “to portray these two individuals – with words from the trial of why an innocent woman had no reason to leave a bus, and footage of a little girl who dreams of always being in one.”