Excuse Me to Say / If All Else Fails


Set in the West African capital city of Accra, Ghana, these two documentary films explore how women from many different ages, educational levels, and class backgrounds speak about health risks, medicines, and concepts of beauty and the body. The stories of individual women weighing their options are told directly to the camera through this revealing collection of characters and locations, from blood tonic stands in open air markets to herbalists to spiritual healers. These documentaries place the views of medical practitioners side by side with those of ordinary women, sewing students, and traditionalists as they discuss different care options for maternity, childbirth, abortion, and / or chronic diseases. Doctors, herbalists, and faith healers also have their say as the camera captures them in action. If All Else Fails and Excuse Me To Say weave a complex web of options and opinions that inform Ghanaian women as they face decisions about managing their own health in a time of ever increasing costs and risks.

From the forty hours of footage shot in Accra, Ghana over eight weeks in 2001, as part of the second summer session of the Women’s Health in the City of Accra Project, a transnational ethnographic research seminar sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the University of Ghana, and multiple generous UM units — Arts of Citizenship, CAAS, History, IRWG, LSA, Obstetrics & Gynecology, OVPR, and the Program for Society and Medicine.

Production – Nancy Hunt
Direction – R. Lane Clark
Lead Editor – Yoni Goldstein
Additional Editing – Meredith Zielke