What happens when a divorced couple decide to live together in their ex-matrimonial home? Dirty fighting and cunning tricks as both parties flex their scorned egos in a bid to make each other jealous.
“Relationships are perhaps the most complex subject in humanity and more often than not it’s laced with a lot of intrigue, comedy, drama and so much more. I like to study people and then write about them, mostly the conversations we have with ourselves and our loved ones,” says Shirley Frimpong-Manso.
Frimpong-Manso is an award-winning Ghanaian director and CEO of Sparrow Productions alongside her life partner and film producer Ken Attoh. As filmmakers they are known to explore romantic chronicles in films including Love or Something Like That and Devil in the Detail.
Their latest offering, Potato Potahto is a hilarious African romantic drama exploring a love dilemma between the characters played by Nigerian film actor, OC Ukeje (Tony) and Ghanaian actress, Joselyn Dumas (Lulu).
Tony and Lulu are successful and headstrong individuals who decide to get married, however soon after tying the knot, the couple realise that their marriage is not working. The pair files for divorce but with both parties contesting everything; a judge tries to offer them an unfavourable but fair solution – split items equally.
“I wanted to treat divorce from a totally different angle, working the relationship backwards. It’s about a young divorced couple who are unwilling to depart from the house they built together during their marriage and so decide to share the space equally.”
“It’s relatable and gives a fresh angle to a very old relationship subject. It’s funny, sexy and lesson abound,” shares Frimpong-Manso
Set in Ghana, the film stars Nigerian and Ghanaian household names including Nollywood veteran, Joke Silva who plays Tony’s mother.
“I wanted a happy setting – colourful and alive – the costumes, music, locations, lighting and cinematography all embodied this look and feel,” shares Frimpong-Manso.
Potato Potahto was shot in just two weeks on a Sony FS7 camera, which Frimpong-Manso says was selected for its high resolution images with good colour renditions. “We shot in 4k. This was important because I wanted the pictures crisp and enduring. Lighting, sound and the general tone had to be the same. Even though the topic was divorce I was determined the look and feel would have the opposite effect. So I went in for a yellowish hue depicting sunshine and promise. The set itself had to be alive so we chose one that had a story to tell on its own.”
Potato Potahto is a collaborative project between Swedish, French, British, Nigerian and Ghanaian film producers, with the aim of establishing global markets. “There is strength in numbers. You get different expertise coming together to work on one project which gives it legs for other opportunities,” affirms Frimpong-Manso.
Post-production duties were handled by 19th April Pictures, which is privately owned by Attoh and Frimpong-Manso.
Potato Potahto had its global premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and was met with positive feedback and reviews. The film later had its African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).
“We are doing the festival rounds at the moment. The audience responses so far from Cannes and Durban have been my main highlight especially because these are not from home. There’s something to be said about strangers laughing at your stuff, the feeling is great.”
Though the film is set to release in cinemas in Ghana later this year, Frimpong-Manso says that the film industry in her home country is currently facing inequality and instability.
“Presently the Ghanaian film industry is not doing very well. We are competing with the influx of foreign material especially on our television screens which these stations have gone further to translate into our indigenous language. The masses are hooked to these materials which bear no resemblance to who we are as a country and where we are going. I hope that the new government will curb this so that local producers have a fair chance to get their content across. Meanwhile I am hopeful that a lot more women will join the new narrative of filmmaking to enhance the image of our women.”
Recently Frimpong-Manso was awarded at Glitz Africa with the Ghana Women of the Year in the Arts award. This recognition has fuelled her ambitions to improve her country’s creative industry.
“It’s (the award) encouraging and also strengthens my resolve to do more in terms of championing the course of the Ghanaian/African woman through my films.”
Recently her friend, Aseye Tamakloe launched a strictly women film festival in Ghana titled the Ndiva Women’s Film Festival. “Her focus is offering a platform for all women involved in the filmmaking process along with female actors a chance to present their work and gain exposure for it. Also personally I think some of the strongest filmmakers in the country now are all women, Leila Djansi, and Juliet Asante come to mind easily,” she concludes.
- Camera: Sony FS7
“We shot in 4k. This was important because I wanted the pictures crisp and enduring. Lighting, sound and the general tone had to be same.” – Shirley Frimpong-Manso