Zim films that rocked international screen in 2023

From left Farai Chigudu, Malaika Mushandu, Joe Njagu, Martina Mwana, Eddie Sandifolo, Amai Maidei and Taurai Kawara at the Zambian international film festival in Lusaka

LOCAL filmmakers continue to penetrate international spaces if productions screened on the international platforms this year are anything to go by.

Despite the challenges faced by Zimbabwean filmmakers, the industry is producing quality films that are getting international recognition.

The film industry has the potential to contribute meaningfully to the country’s gross domestic product.

However, the sector is throttled by underfunding. As the year comes to an end, NewsDay Life & Style takes a glimpse of some of the films that were showcased at different festivals and international platforms. 

Mirage at Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival

Mirage, a film directed by model-cum-filmmaker Malaika Mushandu and produced by veteran filmmaker Joe Njagu, was in September screened at the opening of Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival in Canada.

Set amid the unfolding events of Zimbabwe’s historic 2017 operation restore legacy, Mirage tells the thrilling story of three women’s plot to escape from one of the country’s maximum-security prisons.

It stars an impressive cast that includes jazz singer Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana, Charmaine Mujeri, Chipo Bizure, Eunice Tava and Joylene Malenga.

At the festival, the film won Mushandu, a former Miss Zimbabwe, the Best First Feature Film award after getting three nominations that also included Best Picture and Best Female Filmmaker.

Mirage at Sotambe Zambia International Film Festival

From Canada, the film was also screened at this year’s Sotambe Zambia International Film Festival that took place from September 23 to 30 at the Zambian Italian Cultural Centre and Nu Metro Cinema in Lusaka.

The film was also nominated for the Best Feature Film, Best Sound and Best Screenplay in southern Africa.

Mirage at Botswana International Film Festival

In November, Mirage was also showcased at the Botswana International Film Festival with Mushandu later conferred with the Best Director award.

NGODA at Zambia International Film Festival

The film NGODA directed by Njagu and Eddie Sandifolo was part of the productions screened at Zambia International Film Festival in September. The hour-and-half film’s synopsis was inspired by the country’s illegal diamond mining.

It was shot at popular sites like Dzimbanhete run by Chiko Chazunguza, who also features in the production. The film features a star-studded ensemble of top local talent which includes Sandifolo, Elijah Madzikatire, Taurai Kawara, Charmaine Mujeri, Caroline Mashingaidze-Zimbizi and Farai Chigudu.

Also, part of the cast is Njagu (Charles), Dalma Chiwereva, Charity Dlodlo, Lovejoy Maoneka, Felix Machingambi, Stewart Sakarombe and Chati Butao.

NGODA at Botswana International Film Festival

From Zambia, the film was showcased at Botswana International Film Festival in November. At the festival, the film won Best Cinematography awards for Njagu and Best Actor award for Sandifolo. The film also won the Best Soundtrack and Best Screenplay awards.

NGODA at Kano Indigenous Languages of Africa Film Market and Festival

The film was again screened at the Kano Indigenous Languages of Africa Film Market and Festival in Nigeria. At the festival, it bagged seven awards, the Best Film, Best Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Make Up (Rosebud Tsikira), Best Sound Engineer, Best Supporting Actor (Taurai Kawara) and Best Supporting Actress (Caroline Mashingaidze-Zimbizi).

Ngoda (Season 1) at Lift-Off Global Network Sessions

Local filmmaker Takudzwa Kahwiti Duncan’s Ngoda (Season 1) was in November screened at the prestigious Lift-Off Global Network Sessions at Pinewood Studios in the United Kingdom and Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, United States.

Lift-Off Global Network is a group comprising globally-based film festivals, productions, distribution and global film industry community initiatives.

The series explores a storyline that incorporates five languages, including Desi from Pakistan, English, Shona, Ndebele, and sign language. It was shot in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Kwekwe.

Ngoda (Season 1) features an array of guest stars, including Tehreem Imran from Pakistan, Thickiana from South Africa, Marvin Mukuyu, the current Mr Deaf Zimbabwe and Rutendo Musa, the Miss Albinism Zimbabwe second princess (2021).

Also, renowned artistes like Ti Gonzi, Gary Tight, Dj Speedo, Novuyo Seagirl, Sasha Star, Kritic Igwe and Leo Magozz are part of the cast.

3 Days in March at Bantu Film Festival in Gaborone Botswana

Another local film, 3 Days in March, produced by Admire Kanhenga at his Inhouse Media was screened in October at the second edition of the Bantu Film Festival in Gaborone, Botswana. Back home, the film won three National Arts Merit Awards.

Animals at Bantu Film Festival

Film producer Leo Ericks had his short film, Animals, screened at the Bantu Film Festival in Gaborone, Botswana held in October. The McLewri Media film revolves around the story of two visually impaired youths and another youth with the ability to see. Despite their visual impairments, these two youths had to overcome their limitations and achieve the extraordinary.

The film was written by Welensky Kaseke who also doubled as the director, Leo Jakata and Fadzai Grace Dorothy Gwenhe.

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