My Introduction to Low-Budget African Cinema


Yesterday afternoon I traipsed on over to my hairdresser’s salon to get my hair done.

What I expected was that she’d call me into the chair, and I – as I usually seem to do often – would nod off as she did my hair.

Not today.

As I was waiting my turn, I was trying to read my travel book to Spain when I kept getting distracted by the DVD she had on. At first, I thought it was a music video. Turns out it was one of those low-budget movies filmed in Africa. (Ghana, as it later turns out.)

I listened to the bad dialogue. I watched the bad acting. But I couldn’t turn away.

Thus began my introduction to African cinema. In this case, Beyonce: The President’s Daughter.

Although I walked in part-way through, I think I got the gist of it:

Boy meets girl. Boy hears girl singing at the local club he goes to and is mesmerized by her. Boy tells girl he thinks he loves her. Girl says she thinks he’s crazy, but doesn’t exactly turn him away. And hence boy and girl start a romance (which is somehow illustrated by all the scenes of them shopping at the local grocer’s or department store).

But wait, it gets better. Amidst all this, boy meets another girl. Girl happens to be the daughter of the president of the country. Boy hangs out with girl lots, but doesn’t really see her as girlfriend material. Girl has other ideas.

Somehow in all this, girl talks boy into sleeping with her, and girl falls hard for boy. Keep in mind that Girl # 1 and Girl # 2 know nothing about each other.

Throw in some jealous possessiveness, a materialistic mother and sister, a convoy of SUVs and bodyguards, an acid attack, a couple of broken legs, some reconstructive facial plastic surgery and you’ve got, well, a reeeeeally bad, over-melodramatic, soap opera.

There is nothing redeeming about this movie. They named their main female characters after American R & B singers. The musical score is ridiculous and doesn’t really match the scenes. Some of the continuity makes no sense. And did I mention how bad the dialogue was? And this movie comes in several parts!

But the train wreck was doing its job. I was completely hooked. I almost missed a party because I wanted to stay to find out what would happen. Would Raj find out that Marcy was really his sweetheart Ciara, whom he was told died in the hospital? Would Ciara keep her identity a secret, or die trying to face off against Beyonce? And would Beyonce get what was coming to her, or get away with murder?

So many questions, and no time. But one of these days I’ll have to swallow my dignity and get my hands on a DVD copy of the movie to find out.

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