The Ghanaian short film scene has proved to hold more merit than its feature length counterpart. You could be forgiven for feeling like Ghanaian cinema has nothing but “Ls” in store for audiences but a peek at the freedom, flair and imagination in a few short films serves as a reminder there is potential for strong scripts and deft execution.
One these reminders cum rays of sunshine is a cinematic short titled, 3 Nights Ago, helmed by the director-writer combo of Idowu Okeniyi and Gene Adu under the umbrella of Studio Reel Films. This is my first time coming across Okeniyi but Gene I came across into when I saw his short film called #Guilty, a refreshing noir narrative and I reveled in its stark contrast to the romancexploitaion flashing through our cinemas.
3 Nights Ago also provides something more than we are used to narrative-wise and more importantly, in tone. The film narrows in on a couple, Cobby (Mawuli Gavor) and Ewurama (Sika Osei), who appear to be on the cusp of marriage. A glance at Cobby however and we begin to sense some semblance uneasiness in the air. The demeanor of our characters suggest the absence of emotions we feel should be warranted given the conversation that ensues; concern where maybe there should be anger, contrition as against soppiness, worry instead of frustration. This ambiguity becomes apparent when we observe the emotional transitions in the characters as certain details become clearer.
This film is tightly plotted and hinges on a twist. For this reason I hesitate to disclose much more than I already have and in any case, it is a 10 minute short. I can tell you our director effectively harnesses the right tone to convey what unravels into an unexpected denouement. We gather the recent events pertaining to Ewurama threaten to compromise her engagement to Cobby. She is in the hot seat recounting what exactly happened three nights ago to push her relationship onto a threshold. She appears to present a straightforward telling of what transpired three nights ago but the character reactions give the story an opaque feel.
This obscurity turns to certainty when we finally step behind the veil to what transpired three nights ago and see how that night influenced the reality we see. It’s a flashback of sorts and there are times it starts to resemble televisual documentary re-enactments but for the most part, the visualization is crisp and definite but also tastefully done. I felt that at the core of 3 Nights Ago is ultimately an exercise in the study and manipulation audience emotions. The narrative is what it is but the interest lies in how audience react to the way things unfold. The plotting is key to this and part of me wonders if this would have been a stronger story if the script had more confidence in a more open ended resolution. That would make this film feel less like a social experiment and more like an intriguing domestic drama akin to British director, debbie tucker green’s work on Second Coming.
Our director opts for a largely bleak pallet that hints at the direction this film is heading in. The central performances from Gavor and Osei are well measured and commendably layered meshing well with the atmosphere. It is worth noting how this film opens with the shot of a framed picture showing an undeniably happy Cobby and Ewurama. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Consider how the thousand words pertaining to this picture change as the film unravels and indeed, on subsequent viewings.
Speaking of viewings, you can spare 20 minutes of your time for two viewings of 3 Nights Ago or just 10 for a single viewing below.
By: Delali Adogla-Bessafirstname.lastname@example.org/Ghana