Beyoncé’s visual albums have proven that, in addition to her many other talents, she is an extraordinary curator. The list of directors credited on her new movie Black Is King represents a dazzling roster of visual artists and filmmakers, Guggenheim fellows and veteran documentarians.
In traditional Beyoncé fashion, there’s no information available in advance about which parts of Black Is King have been directed by whom, besides the fact that Knowles-Carter herself is credited as the film’s overarching director, writer, and executive producer.
The directors who have been credited for directing Black Is King are Blitz Bazawule (the film The Burial of Kojo), Emmanuel Adjei (the film Shahmaran), Pierre Debusschere (Mine and Ghost videos for Beyoncé), Jenn Nkiru (Black To Techno film), Ibra Ake (creative director and producer on This is America video for Childish Gambino), Dikayl Rimmasch (Cachao, Uno Mas film), Jake Nava (Crazy in Love, Single Ladies, Partition videos for Beyoncé) and co-director and longtime collaborator of Beyoncé, Kwasi Fordjour.
However, we will focus on the Ghanaian directors: Blitz Bazawule, Emmanuel Adjei and Kwasi Fordjour.
Ghanaian filmmaker Samuel Bazawule began his career as hip-hop artist Blitz the Ambassador, releasing three albums before turning to filmmaking with The Burial of Kojo, which was included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. After it was distributed by Ava DuVernay’s company Array, The Burial of Kojo became the first movie from Ghana to be added to Netflix, where it’s still available to stream.
Adjei is a Ghanian-Dutch filmmaker, schooled in Utrecht, the Netherlands and Ghent, Belgium, whose past credits include videos for Madonna’s Dark Ballet and Batuka, both taken from her 2019 album Madame X.
Adjei also directed a video for the Iranian-Dutch singer Sevdaliza’s Shahmaran, an Afrofuturist parable which begins with Black men lugging what looks like a space-age cruise ship through the desert, and culminates when one of them breaks free, makes his way into an underground room, and finds himself tempted by images of success: a sports car, a gun, a voluptuous woman, an LP.
On Instagram, Adjei said that he was “overwhelmed and honoured” to have the image of a body floating in space above the earth chosen for Black Is King’s official poster, a good indication he’s responsible for that portion of the visual album.
Kwasi Fordjour, who is Ghanaian-born, is the creative director at Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, having entered the company as an intern for her musical director and served as creative director for her historic 2018 Vogue cover shoot.
He also has choreography credits on her 2013 videos Drunk in Love, XO, and Grown Woman. He’s never been credited as a director on one of her music videos before, but several of Black Is King’s other directors singled Fordjour out as the person who brought them on board.
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