The Strange and Wonderful Movie Posters from Ghana: The Matrix, Alien & More

the-matrix ghana

A cot­tage indus­try quick­ly sprang up in the ear­ly 80s when the first video­cas­settes made their way to the West African nation of Ghana. Armed with a TV, a VCR and a portable gen­er­a­tor, mobile cin­e­ma oper­a­tors set up shop in city neigh­bor­hoods and in rur­al berg and began to screen Hong Kong action flicks, Bol­ly­wood musi­cals, Niger­ian movies and Hol­ly­wood block­busters.

In order to pack their mobile the­aters, pro­mot­ers hired artists to design movies posters — usu­al­ly the sole means of adver­tise­ment for a screen­ing. As with a lot of adver­tise­ments in Sub-Saha­ran Africa, the posters were hand paint­ed on large pieces of can­vas or used flour bags. The artists – many of whom seem to have only a ten­u­ous grasp on per­spec­tive and human anato­my — were often­times com­mis­sioned to design a poster with­out hav­ing seen the movie or even real­ly know­ing what a giv­en movie star looks like.

catwoman ghana

The result­ing work is gar­ish, lurid and won­der­ful­ly strange. In an age when the posters com­ing out of Hol­ly­wood are bland and for­get­table, the rough-hewn style of these posters is a real joy — movie art with a pulse. The ver­sion of Cat­woman as adver­tised in the Ghana­ian poster above looks way more inter­est­ing than the actu­al movie.


The gold­en age of the mobile movie the­aters start­ed to decline in the 90s when more and more peo­ple were able to buy their own equip­ment. About that same time, West­ern col­lec­tors start­ed to buy and col­lect the posters.


Jeaurs Oka Afu­tu, a vet­er­an poster design­er who got his start when he was a teenag­er, reflects on his work. “Action and war works a lot … and women too: both actu­al­ly,” he said in an inter­view with CNN. “It all depends on what the audi­ence prefers.”

alien ghana

On this page, you’ll also find posters for The Matrix, The Ter­mi­na­tor, The Spy Who Love Me [sic] and Alien. Find more of these remark­able posters at Twist­ed Sifter.

via CNN

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Gaze at Glob­al Movie Posters for Hitchcock’s Ver­ti­go: U.S., Japan, Italy, Poland & Beyond

See Ottoman-Style Posters of Star Wars, The God­fa­ther, Scar­face and Oth­er Clas­sic Movies

50 Film Posters From Poland: From The Empire Strikes Back to Raiders of the Lost Ark

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

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