‘Art is Life and Death’: One-Man-Banding in Ghana for ‘Paa Joe & the Lion’

Poetry transcends reality in Ghanaian fantasy coffin doc 'Paa Joe & the Lion.'

When English filmmaker and artist Ben Wigley set out to make a film about Paa Joe, he wanted it to be an intersection of documentary storytelling and poetry—fitting for someone who designs symbolic fantasy coffins for a living. What’s a fantasy coffin? If you’re a carpenter, have your coffin be a hammer. A filmmaker? Well, maybe this Nikon coffin. By combining experimental vérité filmmaking with abstract poetic sequences, Wigley ruminates on the role of art in feature documentary Paa Joe & the Lion.

Wigley sat down with No Film School after the SXSW premiere in the Visions section to talk about shooting in Ghana by yourself, makeshift duct-taped camera gear, and how most of the art we make revolves around life and death.

NFS: How would you describe the kind of documentary that you wanted to make in Paa Joe and The Lion?

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