In this series we look at the past 100 years of cinema as seen through ten of the industry’s most fruitful actor/director partnerships. Today, we’ll look at how Shirley Frimpong-Manso and Adjetey Anang’s movies shaped 2010s cinema.

A film set is a busy place and every movie relies on the efforts of many different people. On top of that, every time you begin work on a film you’re entering a new workplace. In those conditions, a familiar face can be a welcome sight.

There are plenty of reasons film-makers might reunite. There could be a mutual recognition they bring the best out of one another. It might make sense for the biggest action director to keep working with the biggest action star. It may be an order from the studio, believing the pairing is what the public wants to see.

Film history is littered with director-actor pairings that were more than the sum of their parts. It’s impossible to decide on the best but, in this series, we’ve decided to pick a pair for each of the past ten decades.

Each duo made at least three films together in that time, although some collaborations lasted longer. Put together, they tell a story of cinema during the past 100 years.

Today, let’s take a look at a chameleonic director and actor partnership intent on breaking new ground in international cinema. Here’s how Shirley Frimpong-Manso and Adjetey Anang’s movies shaped 2010s cinema.

How Shirley Frimpong-Manso and Adjetey Anang’s movies shaped 2010s cinema

Films made: Adams Apples series (2011), Potomanto (2013), Devil In The Detail (2014), Potato Potahto (2017), The Perfect Picture – Ten Years Later (2019)

A frequent nominee at the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), Frimpong-Manso has made herself hard to pigeon-hole. She moved from the glitzy melodrama of Adams Apples straight into action-thriller Potomanto.

Although melodrama remains a favoured genre, one that allows Frimpong-Manso to tackle the social issues close to her heart, she will happily spin similar material two completely opposing ways. Compare the dark infidelity drama of Devil In The Detail with the light romantic comedy of Potato Potahto.

Anang has been part of Frimpong-Manso’s films from the start. He appeared in her 2009 debut A Sting In A Tale and has featured in most of the films she has made since.

His range matches his director’s, moving from playing the driven lead in Potomanto – for which he received an AMAA nomination – to one half of a jealous couple in Devil In The Detail and the briefest of cameos providing comic relief in Potato Potahto.

Frimpong-Manso’s films concern themselves with what being a Ghanaian woman means in the 21st century. Even the films with male leads return to that question.

Often they’ll probe relationships between men and women, from both perspectives. Anang has therefore tended to play a husband or partner. His ease as part of an ensemble is an important attribute for Frimpong-Manso.

Frimpong-Manso has spoken about the importance of her films’ ability to travel outside Ghana. In the UK and elsewhere, it is easier than ever to watch films from around the globe. That is largely down to Netflix but festivals also shine a light on films from outside the traditional hotbeds.

Many national cinemas are more accessible than ever. Frimpong-Manso and her peers now make films with one eye on a more global audience. The potential to reach people internationally is there in a way film-makers working even a decade earlier would have never expected.

Gatekeeping hasn’t disappeared from international cinema – but the gates are wider than ever before.

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