Zoey Martinson

Brooklyn, New York
Theater, Narrative Film

Working with Ghana’s Cape Coast fishing community and a local performance company, The Fisherman is a narrative film about the effect of global warming, globalization, and colonialism on West Africa’s coastline. Zoey Martinson draws from personal stories to address these issues and provide an alternative to the typical “African Poverty” narrative. Martinson’s fascination with the coast started when she was young, living in Ghana’s Volta region. After school she would venture out to sea with the fishermen and join the town pulling-in the net. The fish they gathered would be divided up for people to eat that evening. In this town, there was also a small abandoned slave fort which was used to send captured humans through the middle passage. On the wall hung the bones of a gigantic whale—an extremely rare sight in West Africa—that is said to have ended the slave trade in town by knocking over the boats with human cargo. This whale and the sea became the protector of the people, forcing the traders to leave. Today, there is much trash in the sea and the people have stopped protecting it. The land on which Martinson once stood to the pull the nets is now underwater.

Zoey Martinson is an award winning writer and director in film and theater. Her work focuses on nuanced stories from the Diaspora. Living in Africa, London, and the USA has given her work a unique lens into the stories she tells. Her theater company Smoke & Mirrors Collaborative creates work around social justice themes and has toured internationally. She is a recipient of the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship; NYC Mayor’s Film, TV and Theatre grant; and Filmmakers Without Borders grant. Her work has been nominated for Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, featured on BBC World Service and published in five anthologies, and named one of the 18 Women Making Black History by Popsugar.com. Her work has run off Broadway, toured internationally and is streaming on HBO Max.