Parliament passes new law to regulate locally produced movies

Parliament has passed the Development and Classification of Film Bill after its third reading in the House.

The new Act, which repeals the Cinematography Act, 1961 (Act 76) and the Cinematographer Amendment Decree, 1975 (NRCD 350), seeks to provide the legal framework for the production, regulation, nurturing and development of the Ghanaian film industry, and for the distribution, exhibition and marketing of films and related matters.

The Act established a National Film Authority to promote the creation of a conductive environment for the local production, distribution, exhibition and marketing of films.

The main objectives of the Authority are to evolve a dynamic, economically self-sustaining and culturally conscious film industry in the country in the national interest, promote the creation of a conducive environment for the local production, distribution, exhibition and marketing of films and encourage the use of films to project the identity and image of the Republic and its people within and outside the country.

The Authority is also expected to facilitate co-production between local and foreign producers and regulate foreign participation in the Ghanaian film industry to ensure its benefit to Ghanaian film practitioners.

The National Film Board, to be established under the Act, is expected to institutionalise and enforce the culture of quality, priority and decency in the distribution, sale and exhibition of films and videos in the country.

According to Section 20, “the Board shall not approve for exhibition, a film it considers to be pornographic."

Section 19 (4) which classifies movies as U – Universal for all categories of persons, subsections (b, c, d, e respectively) rated PG, 12, 15, and 18 prevents children from entering film exhibition centers.

Section 23, clauses 1, 2, and 3 respectively stresses that: “a person shall not attend a film exhibition which that person is not qualified to attend by virtue of the classification of the film under section 19 (4).

“A person, who exhibits a film under a license issued under this Act, shall not permit another person who is disqualified by virtue of classification of film to enter or remain on the premises where the exhibition is taking place.”

It continues that: “Where the exhibitor of a film is of the opinion that a person who wishes to enter or remain on the premises or theatre for the exhibition is disqualified by virtue of the classification, the exhibitor shall refund the entrance fee paid by that person and send that person away from their premises or theatre.”

The Act also sets up a Film Development Fund to provide financial support for development and production of full-length, short and medium-length feature films, television productions, cinema theatre development, etc.

The Bill, among other things defined a Ghanaian Film as a film which is registered with the National Film Authority and satisfies any three of the following criteria: the language used in the film is English or Ghanaian language; has a Ghanaian producer; has a Ghanaian Production Team and a Ghanaian film Director

The rest are the film should have a predominantly Ghanaian cast; the subject matter is Ghanaian and a Ghanaian identity as defined by sight and sound.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Youth, Sports and Culture, Kobla Mensah Woyome, in an interview with journalists soon after the passage of the bill disclosed that the Bill would empower the sector minister, not only to regulate but to also ensure that persons who sit by their computers and pirate others’ creative works are brought to book.

Mr Woyome, who is also the Member of Parliament for South Tongu, noted that it was the aim of the government to ensure that hardworking citizens enjoy the full benefits of their labour.

Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah)

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