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Malaika shines with debut film

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TOP model Malaika Mushandu has spread her wings to filmmaking and it appears she has already developed the Midas touch as the debut film she directed titled Mirage has been nominated for three awards at the Movie Academy Awards scheduled for December 20 in Lagos, Nigeria.

BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO

On the film, that is awaiting official world premiere likely to take place early next year, depending on the COVID-19 situation, Malaika worked with renowned filmmaker Joe Njagu as the producer.

The film has been nominated for the Best Soundtrack (done by Prudence Katomeni Mbofana and Gwevedzi) Best Actress in a Supporting Role (for Charmaine Mujeri) and Best First Feature Film by a director categories.

The film awards ceremony popularly known as the African Oscars will be streamed live via the organisers (AMAA) Facebook page and its other digital platforms due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style, Malaika said she was excited about the nomination of a women-dominated cast film where men came in as crew.

“I am so excited and proud not only because the film got nominated, but also because it is the first that I have directed. I am happy that the purportedly male-dominated industry is opening up, bringing women to limelight,” she said.

“I am a strong believer of equality and I tried to balance sexes during the production process. The film Mirage has a female driven cast, director and scriptwriter and the crew has males, thus, striking a balance.”

Malaika said the script for the film, done by MMX Productions and Malaika Productions, was written by seasoned writer Virginia Jekanyika and followed the story of three women who escaped from prison, only to find out that the walls of life were much harder to deal with.

“While serving a five-year jail term at one of Zimbabwe’s tightest prisons just outside of Harare, Tambu (Katomeni Mbofana) learns of the abuse of her daughter by her brother back home.

Fuelled by the passionate anger of a single mother, Tambu convinces fellow inmates Memo (Chipo Bizure) and Zoe (Mujeri) to escape together with her,” she said.

Malaika said the prisoners’ plan to escape hanged on a thin thread as rumours of the escape fuelled an ongoing power struggle between one of the officers and the prison warden.

“Tambu seizes the moment during a church service at the prison led by a popular pastor, and on the backdrop of the Zimbabwean coup in 2017, where late former President Robert Mugabe was ousted. The trio embark on a thrilling but dangerous prison break. As we follow the three young women’s journey to freedom, we ask ourselves, how do you escape yourself,” she said.

Film producer Njagu said: “With her (Malaika) debut feature film Mirage, she makes an impressive entry into the film world. Lending her talent for storytelling to the film industry, she wants to give a voice to the often-under-represented half of the population — the woman.”

Njagu described 2020 as a “fantastic” year for the film industry despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To end the year with a blast, Mirage has been nominated for not only one, but three awards for Africa’s most prestigious award show, the AMAA and we have been excited to see Cook Off being the first Zimbabwean movie ever to be accepted on the global streaming platform Netflix,” he said.

“Despite the global pandemic following a recession for the global film industry, the year has seen the release of quality films, such as Gonarezhou and Shaina.”

Follow Tafadzwa on Twitter @Tafadzw_Kachiko

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