This week’s edition of Celebrations with Ebenezer Narh Affum will focus on Rev Dr Chris Tsui Hesse. He is Ghana’s foremost cinematographer, photographer, film maker and film administrator and he was born on 29th August 1932 at OSU in Accra. The need to have the best of education saw him enrolling at the Osu Presbyterian Junior and Senior Boys School and then the Odorgonno Secondary School.
He obtained the Cambridge Overseas Certificate in 1954 and in the same year, he was employed at the Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC). He also attended the Film and Television school, Lodz Poland and successfully graduated in 1960. He also obtained a post-graduate certificate in Film and TV Arts at the University of Sorbonne in Paris, France.
His other academic credentials include a Bachelor of Divinity (1985) and Doctor of Philosophy in Film and Arts from the University of Southern California, USA (1989). He is well known and recognized for his outstanding expertise in cinematography as is depicted in several award-winning productions such as Love Brewed in the African Pot (1980),Heritage Africa(1989), Harvest at 17 (1994) and Cross Roads of People, Cross Roads of Trade (1994).
He helped to document the visual history of the political leadership and development of the country. He also worked for the United Nations serving as a photographer, documenting the Congo Crisis. Rev Dr Chris Hesse is known to be the first war cameraman to shoot a film on the Crisis in 1960 for worldwide distribution in the capacity as an Honorary Captain in the Peace Keeping Force. He was once the Personal Photographer of Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah between 1956 and 1966.
He also served as Personal Photographer for other Heads of State such as General J. A. Ankrah, General A.A. Afrifa, Prime Minister Dr. K. A. Busia, General I. K. Acheampong, General Akuffo, President Dr Hilla Liman and Flt. Lt. President J. J. Rawlings.He worked for forty years at the then Gold Coast Film Unit and he was the Director of Photography for The Boy Kumasenu which was nominated in the Best Picture Category of the British Academy Film Awards.
Rev Hesse rose through the ranks to become the Managing Director of the Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC) for 10 years until his retirement from government service in 1994.Without any doubt, Rev Dr. Chris Hesse has an awesome wealth of Experience in Film Production, including being the head of NEWS Department of the GFIC for 10years (1974-1984).
Within the ten years, he produced several newsreels, magazines, adverts and short documentaries, some of which have won international awards. He won the Golden Camera Award (First Prize in Cinematography in Africa) at the Pan African Film Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (FESPACO) in 1985. He was the director of photography for Kwaw Ansah’s award-winning films Love Brewed in the African Pot (1980) and Heritage Africa (1989).
He was also the director of photography for the late Ace film maker Ato Yanney Snr’s His Majesty’s Sergeant (1984).He also traveled extensively throughout the world filming conferences at the UN, Commonwealth, OAU, Non-aligned, visits of Heads of State and various international seminars.
He has been associated with productions such as The Boy Kumasenu (1952), Progress in Kodjokrom (1953),Mr Mensah Builds a House (1956),Beyond the Volta (1956),Plebiscite of Togoland (1957),Freedom for Ghana (1957),Operation Congo (1960) and Love Brewed in the African Pot (1980).Others include His Majesty’s Sergeant (1984), Heritage Africa (1989),Harvest at 17 (1994),Cross Road of People and Cross of Trade (1994).
In 2014, Rev Dr Chris Hesse was honoured for his enormous contribution to cinema and the Nation at the 3rd NAFTI Film Lectures on the Motion Picture Industry which focused on his work as a cinematographer, film director and documentary photographer. Rev Hesse is one of the individuals who have consistently called for the passage of the film bill which is intended to put in place all the necessary structures and systems for the film industry.
Rev Dr Chris Tsui Hesse is a founding member and former President of the Ghana Academy of Film and Television Arts (GAFTA). In 1985, he was ordained into the Ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. He served in several congregations. He also became the Executive Director of the Prisons Ministry of Ghana. Rev Dr Chris Hesse has been married to Mrs. Regina Hesse (a retired Officer of the Bank of Ghana) since1959 and they have five grown children and grandchildren. His hobbies include lawn tennis, jogging, cycling and yoga exercise. He speaks English and French.
Ebenezer Narh Affum
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