Jonathan Mbiriyamveka Entertainment Reporter
“Flora and Dambudzo”, a controversial film that sets out to show the difficulties of black/white “illicit” romance in a traditional post colonial society is coming soon. Based on a true story on the relationship between acclaimed Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera and Flora Veit Wild, a German scholar, the film is likely to ignite a new wave of debate with regards to interracial relationships.
A nine-minute short film which is part of a feature in development of the same title was screened at the recently held Zimbabwe International Film Festival in Harare.
However, the film was out of competition since Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska was also a judge for the Zimbabwe Calabash, a section of the film festival.
The film was directed and produced by Dr Piotrowska, an academic from the University of Bedfordshire and edited by Zimbabwe’s award winning filmmaker Joe Njagu. It was co-written by Ery Nzaramba, who plays Dambudzo Marechera. Nzaramba, a Rwandese resembles the late Marechera insofar as the looks are concerned.
It has been 27 years since Marechera’s death but his works are still relevant not only to Zimbabweans but also scholars throughout the world.
The couple met in the 1980s in Harare and became close friends until the writer’s death in 1987. Both the short film and the full length screenplay were inspired by true events, in consultation with Professor Flora Veit Wild as well as other close friends and acquaintances of Dambudzo.
The film has generated a great deal of interest in Zimbabwe, with Dr Piotrowska recently interviewed on national radio with Njagu talking about their collaboration.
One of the questions asked was why foreigners always wanted to tell Zimbabwean stories?
“Dambudzo, was a flamboyant and eccentric figure at the time and is arguably still the most important voice of his generation. He is considered an iconic figure in Zimbabwe but is also viewed as highly dangerous and subversive.
“The nature of his relationship with Flora Veit Wild was the subject of speculation and rumours for decades. At the time of their friendship Flora was married to the Director of the Zimbabwean German Society in Harare and they had two young children,” Dr Piotrowska told the University of Bedfordshire.
She said the film interrogated the issues of interracial relationships common throughout the world.
Dr Piotrowska said it was also saddening to note that after 27 years since the death of Marechera nobody had bothered to do a film about his life.
The film is part of her continuous collaboration with a number of leading Zimbabwean artistes, in particular the award winning filmmaker, Njagu.
She said the long feature film ends on a happy note when Flora attends Marechera’s funeral.
Dr Piotrowska is a filmmaker and the Course Leader for the MA in Creative Digital Film Productions and MSc in Digital Production and Technology. She is also the Reader in Film Practice and Theory at the Media Arts and Production Department at the university.