‘Like Cotton Twines,’ by Ghanaian based American filmmaker and director Leila Djansi, is among the films set to screen at the 20th Urbanworld Film Festival in New York.
Visionary filmmaker Ava Duvernay and Selma star David Oyelowo are serving as festival ambassadors.
‘Like Cotton Twines’ is a thought-provoking drama on an ancient Ghanaian tradition called Trokosi.
It revolves around a 14-year-old Tuigi (Ophelia Dzidzornu) who had to serve at a shrine which is nothing short of sex slavery, to atone for the sins of her father.
To become a trokosi, Tuigi must abandon her education to serve as a sex slave.
“In this world, not every woman gets to have a choice. Your father did a bad thing and you are the only one who can save us,” her mother, Luckie Lawson, tells her about Trokosi.
Micah (Jay Ellis), Tuigi’s American teacher, wades into the unfolding drama to rescue her student only to realise he must also exorcise his own demons when he returns to the land where his ancestors were taken from as slaves.
The movie, produced by Akofa Djankui and Whitney Valcin, was influenced by Djansi own experience with a young slave girl in Ghana when she was 10 years old.
“When I was 10 years old, I experienced a Trokosi in the market. I was very young, but I could still see that she has lost all hope.
“Years later, a good friend of mine lost her father. At the funeral, there was a bus load of Trokosis in attendance because her dad was a voodoo priest," Djansi said.
“The Trokosis were chanting 'we are queens, not slaves.”' These women lived hard lives and their eyes were filled with so much pain, yet they were able to chant such a powerful statement.
“I started to wonder how they were able to go from being pulled away from their families with their innocence and freedom stripped to chanting 'we are queens, not slaves.' Witnessing their strength first hand was a very powerful moment for me, and I knew that I had to tell their story," she told Hollywood’s Black Renaissance.
‘Like Cotton Twines’ stars Ophelia Dzidzornu as Tuigi, alongside Yvonne Okoro, Miranda Bailey, David Dontoh, Mawuli Semevo, Luckie Lawson and Adjetey Anang.
It is executive produced by Amanda Marshall and Dave Harper with cinematography by Pietro Villani.