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Belgium | 2018 | 81 minutes | Ben Asamoah

Experience the other side of internet dating site scams and the economic ramifications that drive those who participate, seen through the eyes of a group of unemployed Ghanaian youth who defraud Westerners.

They seek favor from the gods through voodoo rituals. And they scroll through dating websites, constructing fake profiles for stunning women, hoping to cash in on gullible Western men. This is "Sakawa," a Ghanaian term that describes the intersection between voodoo magic and illegal internet scamming. Beautifully shot and expertly edited, an exemplar of "Show, don't tell," Ben Asamoah's Sakawa forgoes interviews, or even naming those on screen, preferring to follow the unemployed Ghanaian scammers as they chat up their "clients." In one scene, a young man laughs with his daughter; in another, he fakes an absurd, high-pitched voice in calls to his U.S. client. With dreams of a better life moving to Italy with his family, he struggles to swindle the money from his "baby," and out of desperation turns to a voodoo priest for blessing. Sakawa approach is human, not statistical; no narrator or experts intrude with their analysis and abstract figures. When the scammers discuss, laughing, that men from the UK named Peter are the easiest targets, they do so among themselves, without referencing the camera. Though Asamoah's troubling film does not explicitly address colonialism, inequity, or Western excess, he illuminates another side to internet scams, thousands of miles distant, and leaves us to wrestle with the disturbing, thought-provoking result.

Director Biography
Ben Asamoah is an award-winning film director from Belgium with roots from Ghana. He studied Audiovisual Arts at RITS School of Arts, and graduated as a film director. Sakawa is his feature-length directorial debut.

Sponsored by KING 5

  • Director: Ben Asamoah
  • Country: Belgium, Netherlands
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 81 minutes
  • Producer: Peter Kruger, Pieter van Huystee
  • Screenplay: Ben Asamoah
  • Cinematographers: Jonathan Wannyn
  • Editors: Tom Denoyette, Simon Schuurman
  • Music: Feras Daouk, Laurens Desmet
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Docville International Documentary Film Festival 2019 (Best Belgian Documentary)
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: English, Akan, Ewe
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: Rise and Shine