Anniwaa Buachie Talks … Moon Over Aburi

Anniwaa Buachie is an award-winning actress, filmmaker and writer.

Primarily known for her portrayal of “Eka” a Nigerian mother battling with issues concerning FGM in the TV series Survivor’s Remorse on STARZ, Buachie has also starred in British feature film Aux, and cult hospital series Holby City and can also be seen in a recurring role on BBC Teen Drama series Phoenix Rise and has stage credits both nationally and internationally.

We spoke to Buachie about her latest acting and writing credit Moon Over Aburi. The film follows two strangers, a man, and a woman. With one story. The man begins it, the woman concludes it, and highlights the sordid role of a woman’s place in a corrupt lawless society.

Please introduce yourself …

I’m Anniwaa Buachie, a Ghanaian-British [South London] award-winning actress, filmmaker and writer.

Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …

Omnipresent ubiquity.

Tell us about your latest project Moon Over Aburi; what’s your role in it?

I am the Producer and Co-Director of Moon Over Aburi. And I play the leading female character ‘Arabna‘, a former policewoman who takes fate into her own hands.

How did it come about?

As an actor, I provided the voice of the audiobook for the anthology Accra Noir, edited by the amazing writer Nana Ama Danquah [author of Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression]. I fell in love with the story and phenomenal writing of Moon Over Aburi, by Kwame Dawes. I remember when I started reading it, I immediately had goosebumps. The story was honest, visceral, poetic, chilling; a dangerously tantalising dance of cat and mouse between two people, a man and woman, full of secrets and lies. Making one question whether two wrongs can make a right.

Anniwaa Buachie as (Arabna) & Brian Angels (Mr. Tevi) in Moon Over Aburi

It sat with me, it was in my heart, my mind, and my body. This story was unusually haunting. I had never read a story that highlighted the vicious cycle of domestic violence but also explored how a woman ruthlessly and unapologetically takes back her power.

Society tends to excuse the faults of a man and blame the women in his life. The woman who raised him, the woman who married him, the woman who rejected him. Power is given to a woman to birth and nurture a child, yet it is taken from her as soon as she seeks equality, acknowledgement and respect. It is an alluring beautiful story that pushes the brutal subject matter of domestic violence into the light, a much-needed conversation that often lies in the shadows, swept under the carpet. So I wanted to add my own torch, to make that light brighter.

Highs, lows, solutions …

Kwame Dawes’s writing is beautiful, lyrical and poetic, and it was important to me to ensure that the film produced stayed true to the mystical element of his original story. Many stories are written in the first person, and the reader is already biased as they often attach themselves to the main narrator, the protagonist. However, with the story version of Moon Over Aburi, Kwame had already written it in a dialogue format. The story was a script in the first instance, so adapting it to film, was a joy, to be honest.

What was tricky was deciding how much detail from a 20-page short story to pack into a 10-page script. The world that Kwame had created in fictional story format was so intricate, intimate through words and heavily reliant on the reader’s interpretation. However, with a screenplay, you have to make definitive decisions and find ways to utilise camera shots, sounds and the colour palette to influence the viewer’s perspective. Film also demands a particular structure that a short story can forgo. Screenplays require scenes that establish each character and a clear breaking point in the middle of the script that tests characters to the emotional extreme. The audience need to be taken on an emotional ride, and this is influenced by the whole creative team – producer, director, cinematographer etc. A screenplay is constantly changing and evolving, but with a short story, it is compact and stable as there is one director, the author.

Personally, it was a challenge for me to maintain a balance between being an actor and producer of this amazingly short and co-directing. All of those roles have a distinctive perspective. It was conflicting at times because the actor inside me wanted to play forever and fully immerse myself in the character. However, there was a part of my brain, that as the Producer, always had to be focused on the practicalities, thinking about if the budget is being used effectively, if everyone is happy on set, if cast and crew have been fed and have what they need to maintain a high quality. Also, once a film project is done, an actor can switch off and think about their next project, whereas the role of the film maker doesn’t stop there: now it’s about implementing marketing, sourcing additional finance, distribution. Good thing, I am a great multitasker.

Brian Angels (Mr. Tevi) & Anniwaa Buachie (Arabna) in Moon Over Aburi

A scene or a moment that defines why you said yes to the project?

A particular point of the story, is when the main character takes the law into her own hands with one visceral action. It’s an action that reframes the conversation of Law and Justice, in particular police protection and Black women. Worldwide Black women are dying, and go missing, and the only people speaking up about this, are Black women. In communities that consider Black women’s lives to be worthless, at some point, those who will stand up for them, often themselves, become vigilantes. And take any action possible to protect Black women to stop the cycle of trauma, abuse and death. This is what inspired me to produce this project, opening a conversation about the value of a Black woman’s life and that we like anybody else in this world deserve protection.

What’s your current plan B?

I do not have one. That’s why I go hard at my plan A. I think there have been many phases to my plan A, and so far so good. I am a strategic thinker, a realist, and a risk-taker. Three very powerful attributes so I am always evolving my Plan A. I have Plan A version 3.0 etc. If something goes wrong, I take a breath, regroup with myself and try a different approach. My Ghanaian family has cussed me out over the years for not having a plan B, but I’m alive, healthy and doing what I was put on this earth to do. I’m thriving.

What’s made you Sad, Mad, Glad this week?

Sad, nothing I can think of. I am in a good place in my life at the moment. Mad, I need to get out of London again. I love it, it’s my home city, but I can only stay here for a couple of months before the rain and cold get to me. I mean we are now in April. Why is it like this? Why is the weather so annoying? Glad, I’m Pole Dancing again. I love dancing. I trained as a ballet dancer for years and years. And to me, pole dancing is like ballet combined with gymnastics and aerial. The way my body feels after a pole dance class; I feel strong. I feel like a superhero. It’s such a beautiful dance form.

What are you watching right now?

I watched Rye Lane the other day. Love, love, loved it. Okay, this actually made me get a bit teary eyed. Such a beautiful cute story, and lovely to see black people living their lives – trauma free. Just 2 beautiful creative people enjoying life in South London. And as a South Londoner, I could 100% relate. Loved it. And so happy to see a gorgeous woman like Vivian Oparah on screen. Yes! Yes! Yes!

And of course Succession. Honestly it’s the modern day King Lear. The writing and acting are impeccable. I love the mixture of ruthlessness and vulnerability these characters are subtle extremes. It’s like marmite, all the characters leave a particular unforgettable taste that is addictive. Who will lead the Logan Roy empire? Only God knows.

I also started watching a french drama – Thicker Than Water, which reminds me of Swedish drama Snubba Cash. I love watching international productions, it gives me an an insight into what types of storylines do well in different markets.

What are you reading right now?

I’m Reading 3 books at the same time. My First Coup D’Etat by John Mahama. Chronicles the coming-of-age of former Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama in Ghana during the dismal post-independence “lost decades” of Africa. The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim. A restless young woman growing up in Germany with Ghanaian parents feels caught between two worlds. Sacred Woman by Queen Afua. Sacred Woman is a rare space for melanated women to be cultivated and guided along a wellness journey toward inner freedom, feminine sacredness and divinity.

Cynthia Dankwa & Anniwaa Buachie (Arabna) in Moon Over Aburi

What are you listening to right now?

Born N Bread NTS show. Love these ladies. They’re a creative collective of friends from South London, and they head up a bi-weekly music and lifestyle show every other Saturday morning. It is pure jokes. And also a balance of real issues, mixed in with everything from R&B, hip-hop and trap through to grime, dancehall and Afrobeat.

The last thing you saw on stage?

Merboy, A poetic, queer retelling of The Little Mermaid, which was performed at the Omnibus Theatre. “Using verse, storytelling and lip-synching, Merboy tells the story of a sexual awakening of mixed heritage queer boy navigating school homophobia and the brutal complexities of gay scene.” It was a great production. Absolutely marvellous. I went with my cousin and we couldn’t stop talking about it. It was funny, emotional and enticing.

What’s on your bucket list?

To vist all 54 African Countries at least once within the next 10 years.

Celebrate someone else …

Vivian Oparah. I loved her in Rye Lane. She’s beautiful, funny, versatile, interesting. Honestly, she made the film for me. Loved her.

Celebrate yourself …

Despite everything, I am still going. I continue to stay focused, and to find ways to create a platform for myself and others. I am consistent. Time goes by, and life has changed my perspectives, but continually I am trying to find ways to develop stories that give an insight into the lives of people that are often pushed aside. I don’t forget people, I always try to connect the dots and connect people to opportunities that may help them to get closer to where they want to go.

Whose footsteps are you following in?

Only my own. There are so many amazing creatives out there, and people can be similar to one another but we are not the same. So I figure it’s best to create your own path, take inspiration from those that have walked before you, but sometimes you have to veer down the road less travelled … see what happens.

What’s Next?

Well, you can watch me in the new BBC Teen Drama series Phoenix Rise. Airs every friday at 7pm on BBC3. Or if you want to binge it, catch it on BBC I player.

Moon Over Aburi, was screened at Pan African Film Festival [Los Angeles], JoBurg Film Festival, Toronto Black Film Festival and now it will be screened at The 30th Anniversary of New York African Film Festival in May. So start spreading the news, I’m leaving today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York. Also currently working on developing a surreal fairy tale based TV series.

Where can we find you?

On a plane most of the time. Or online – www.anniwaabuachie.com/ | Socials: @AnniwaaBuachie


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