Jonathan Mbiriyamveka Entertainment Reporter
Superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga and actor Fidelis Cheza received the Safirio Madzikatire Awards for distinguished contributions to film as the curtain came down on the four-day Zimbabwe International Film Festival.The late greats – Godwin Mawuru and Walter Muparutsa – were honoured posthumously at the 15th edition of the festival which was graced by top South African filmmaker and screen actor Vusi Kunene.
Mtukudzi, who was accompanied at the awards ceremony by his wife Daisy, thanked the festival organisers for recognising his role in film.
Far more than a musician, Mtukudzi has been deeply involved in other art forms.
He was featured in “JIt”, the first film with an all-Zimbabwean cast, and played a leading role in “Neria”, a feature film for which he also wrote and arranged the soundtrack.
He also wrote and directed the musical “Was My Child”, a production exploring the plight of street children in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
Cheza is another popular actor in Zimbabwe and film-goers know him through such roles as “Danger” and “Chikwama”. Almost in the twilight of his career, Cheza was optimistic about the Zimbabwean film industry saying it came a long way. The late Mawuru produced and directed Zimbabwe’s first-ever soapie,Studio 263, which went beyond Zimbabwean borders when it screened on DStv’s AfricaMagic channel.
He also produced/directed the epic movie “Neria”.
He was also behind the teen-oriented television talk show, “This is Life”.
Nigel Munyati, the ZIFF acting director and founding trustee, said they were happy with the festival though they were disappointed by the low turnout.
“We had a great festival not in terms of numbers but the impact. We had low turnout than we anticipated because there were other competing events as well as the bad weather which affected the turnout. However, in terms of the impact, I think we achieved what we set out to do and we would like people to know that ZIFF is back. We also brought in international filmmakers in the likes of Vusi who promised to come and collaborate with Zimbabwean filmmakers.
“I think collaborations are the best way to go and we want to encourage more collaboration between African filmmakers,” he said.
Running under the theme “A retrospective: Looking Back Through Independent Eyes”, the festival went down the memory lane that Zimbabwe took since independence to today through the eye of film.
The Zimbabwean film industry was once vibrant with Hollywood actors flocking to the country to shoot movies. Some of the Hollywood stars who visited Zimbabwe to shoot films include Denzel Washington, then a rookie.
He came to Harare to shoot “Cry Freedom” and Sharon Stone, who left the hustle and bustle of Hollywood to shoot “King Solomon’s Mines”. Other big names who visited Zimbabwe include Morgan Freeman for the film “BOPA”, as well as Nicolas Cage.