Paa Joe & the Lion

Ghana’s Godfather of fantasy coffins

Directed by Ben Wigley | Produced by Anna Griffin

Can Ghana’s greatest fantasy coffin-maker save his legacy and take the art world by storm?

Paa Joe is an artist and pioneer of fantasy coffin craft. He was apprentice to the man who started it all, his uncle, Kane Kwei. He makes beautiful creations that are often seen by only a handful of people before being buried forever.

In the past Paa Joe was sought out by US presidents and art galleries, but is now facing great difficulties. The documentary follows his highs and lows as he tries to get back on top – from losing his workshop in Accra, to travelling to England to create a coffin as artist-in-residence at the National Trust’s Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.

The demand for figurative coffins began in Ghana in the 1950s when two carpenters made their grandmother an aeroplane-shaped coffin, to fulfil her lifelong wish to fly. Designs include everything from coke bottles to cars, and are chosen to represent the person the coffin will carry.

Can Paa Joe get back on top and leave a legacy to his son and apprentice, Jacob?


Interview with Paa Joe in the African & Afro-Diasporan Art Talks

This film is in development. Please visit the website to help crowd-fund its completion. View the campaign trailer: