TOP Zimbabwean actor Tongai Arnold Chirisa, who is now based in the Mecca of film — Hollywood — last week said local film makers should produce works that allow them to tell stories from their own perspective.
BY IDAH MHETU
Speaking on the sidelines of the 16th edition of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF) during the Vault Cosmetics “Meet the Fans” session at Barbours departmental store last week, Chirisa said African stories told by foreigners would be distorted.
He said such distortions would consequently create wrong impressions about Africa.
“It is imperative to tell our own stories our own way than to have other people do it for us and gather the wrong ideas on the African story,” the Hollywood star said.
The “Meet the Fans” programme was sponsored by Jackie Mgido’s Vault Cosmetics in partnership with Meikles Hotel and South African Airways.
“It is imperative for us to take ownership since we are the soul owners of our own stories,” Chirisa said, adding that aspiring filmmakers should not give up on their dreams.
“All I can say to my fellow Zimbabweans is that you have to have the self determination on what you want to do in life. Don’t give up. I did it and worked for me.”
His remarks came at a time when the fledgling local film industry was in dire need of funding to produce better quality films.
Filmmakers have over the years expressed concern that most funding for films came with strings attached and consequently pandered to the whims of the foreign purse holders.
It was noted during the festival that the film industry relied heavily on donor funding and the situation had seen non-governmental organisations controlling the process and consequently impacting on the messages conveyed to film audiences.
Chirisa returned home last Tuesday for an interactive event dubbed “Celebrating our Success”.
The Jim the Gaffigan Show star had moments with the local film makers and fans during his visit and he told NewsDay that it felt good to be home.
“It feels great to be back home and you know it’s home and there is no place like home,” he said.
Vault Cosmetics’ general manager Pamela Chinhoyi told NewsDay during a makeover show at Barbours that Vault Cosmetics’ idea of bringing Chirisa was meant to inspire local upcoming actors and filmmakers.
“Bringing Chirisa was important, especially to the film industry so that other Zimbabweans can realise they can make it in anything they do,” she said.
Chirisa, who first hogged the limelight in Zimbabwe after an appearance in the popular local soap, Studio 263, left the country for South Africa 10 years ago and he worked on a number of film projects that included Mr Bones 2, Diamonds, Skin, Robinson Crusoe and Mrs Mandela.
In 2009, he braved his way into Hollywood where his star has continued to shine.
He left the country on Saturday back to the United States, en-route South Africa where he had some business engagements.