The year 2018 has proven to be one of transformation and growth for the film industry.
BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
Despite the economic challenges the country has been going through, there were notable developments that took place and filmmakers are hopeful of a brighter 2019.
Several premieres, formation of filmmakers’ organisations, engagement with government and women filmmakers’ campaign against sexual exploitation marked the 2018 calendar.
Dark clouds, however, engulfed the industry following the death of renowned actress Kudzai Chimbaira, who was based in Sweden, and Wenera actor Joseph Gunduza Magigwani (who all died in January) as well as Studio 263 actresses Elizabeth “Tete Jari” Nyanguridza and Charmaine “Mai Huni” Mangwende, who died in July and November respectively.
Simbarashe “Mdhara Bonzo” Lawrence’s passing on plunged the industry and his fans into moaning in May, while veteran actor Kembo Ncube’s death in September also left the film fraternity gutted.
The industry premiered more films this year if compared to 2017.
Chinhoyi 7, Tete B, Kushata Kwemoyo, Mind Games, Overspill, Harare Working Wives, Goodman, Chihombiro, Death and Other Complications, Love Triangle and State of Malambia are the films that have successfully premiered.
Ten of the listed movies debuted on a big screen at either Ster Kinekor Borrowdale or Eastgate in Harare.
Unfortunately, most of them were attended mainly by fellow filmmakers.
The year 2018 exposed the gap between filmmakers and their potential audience.
Most of the films mentioned hit the big screen, but were quickly forgotten.
Some were reportedly sold to DStv’s Zambezi Magic channel, Zollywood TV and could also be accessed on Media Matrix (MMX)’s pay per view platform.
To many local film lovers, those films never existed.
Although Chinhoyi 7, which chronicles the epic 1966 Chinhoyi battle, set a record by attracting 600 film lovers as well as top government officials, who filled up all the cinemas at Ster Kinekor Borrowdale, a large population is still unaware of the existence of the film.
The limited number of the ordinary audience during premieres was an indicator of poor publicity of the industry’s products, according to filmmaker Bernard “Solis” Sande.
“Zimbabweans have no movie-going culture. Even when it comes to watching Hollywood films, you would find a few people in a cinema. During a premiere, you would find a cinema packed with fellow film practitioners,” he said.
“We produce most of these films to earn a living. We cannot put our films on platforms where the viewers watch freely. We are in search of money and we are not apologetic about that.”
Lack of support from audience has, thus, been a challenge to the film industry.
As 2019 approaches, there is need to break the distance between artistes and the audience in particular the gap in the film industry.
The positive step towards achieving this is by taking movies to the people and producing genres that resonate with most of the film lovers.
Although State of Malambia “made history” by being the first to premiere on ZBC-TV, it left many viewers doubting contemporary filmmakers’ potential to produce highly-competitive since the film’s storyline’s ambiguity did not find many takers among film lovers.
The calendar of film premieres closed on a very disappointing note as the local films consumers were not impressed by Malambia.
If Van AJ Klaus short film Tidal Drift: The Everlasting Chronicles, to be screened officially next year, manages to impress the viewers, perhaps audiences’ relationship with most filmmakers would change.
Maroro is another movie waiting to be premiered this coming year.
There are more than 10 Zimbabwean films that are currently showing on MNet channels.
“It is not sustainable giving film content to ZBC and it’s unwise to distribute discs so we export,” another producer who preferred anonymity said.