The District of Columbia Office of Motion Picture and Television Development is pleased to recognize Shirikiana Aina, award-winning independent filmmaker best known for her role as co-producer of the internationally acclaimed film Sankofa, as the November 2012 Filmmaker of the Month. Shirikiana has more than 25 years’ experience providing programming, distribution and exhibition of indie films, focusing on primarily the African Diaspora. Mostly narrated from the perspectives of people of African descent, her films often comment on the physical, cultural, and psychological dislocation of Black people during and after slavery.
Initially a cinematographer, her interest turned to producing and directing. She has worked as a cinematographer for various documentaries such as Politics of African Cinema, Lois Mailu Jones: 50 Years of Painting and On Becoming a Woman. Her directorial credits include Brick-By-Brick and Through the Door of No Return, a personal journey back to the slave dungeons of Ghana to confront the residual impact of the slave trade on Blacks on the continent and in the diaspora. She is currently working on a documentary feature on the involvement of African Americans and other diasporians in Ghana during the time of Kwama Nkrumah, titled, Catching the Whisper on the Wave: A Pan African Legacy.
In 1982, Shirikiana and her husband award-winning independent filmmaker Haile Gerima established Mypheduh Films, Inc., a distribution company for independent, African and African American films. They distributed all of their films through the company including their internationally acclaimed and award-winning film Sankofa. The husband and wife team also founded the Sankofa Video and Bookstore in Washington, DC. Sankofa, named after their most successful film to date, is defined as a cultural and intellectual space that offers opportunities for self-expression, interaction, discussion and analysis through community events such as film screenings, book signings, scholar forums and artist showcases.
Shirikiana is also a cofounder of Positive Productions, Inc., a nonprofit film company organization that provides film services, equipment and editing facilities to independent filmmakers. This organization provides independent filmmakers resources necessary to create and distribute films. She has taught courses in scriptwriting and film production at her alma mater Howard University in Washington, DC. She is also a mother of six and lives with her husband in ward five of the District of Columbia.
The DC Film Office launched the Filmmaker of the Month initiative to feature a District-based filmmaker who exemplifies the vast amount of talent and creativity based here in the nation’s capital. The Filmmaker of the Month initiative is part of its mission to elevate the national and international profile of the city’s most talented filmmakers. Previous filmmakers honored include filmmaker and screenwriter of Kettle of Fish Claudia Myers; producer of The West Wing and K Street Jonathan Zurer; actor, comedian and filmmaker Tommy Taylor, Jr.; and creator and director of web series Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden Otessa Ghadar.
You can visit the Filmmaker of the Month section to learn more about Shirikiana and previous Filmmaker of the Month recipients.