Zimbabwe Digital News
In the same month that he is nominated for the personality of the year at the 2018 Zimbabwe Excellence Awards, Zimbabwe Digital News this week caught up with multi-award winning model, producer, actor and executive film director, Melgin Tafirenyika after the release of the trailer for his latest movie, Chihombiro.
This is what he said:
- This is a story about infertility issues, not that the man had problems, but the couple. But the twist of the tale is that society took a dig at the husband more than the wife. Rudo’s family indirectly offer her young sister to Bhuru, the husband but the plan fails. When Maidei, Rudo’s young sister decides to abandon the plan, she is raped but does not tell the sister. Meanwhile trouble is brewing in the marriage as cheating, outright adultery and theft mounts. Things go out of hand after a simple meal involving chihombiro, a local mushroom. The events that follow result in a complete breakdown of marriage.
The characters Rudo, Bhuru, Maidei, Sabhuku, Mwendamberi and all the characters relate to village storylines as one is a herdman. The community is living a natural village setting, life is peaceful, people go about in traditional gatherings such as nhimbe. The village folk are believers in traditional healers and herbs more than the town people.Further you can see as well that some of the ridicule they face are real challenges, because in any society, rumours and gossip spreads when couples fail to have children.
Eunice Ratidzo Tava
- Eunice Ratidzo Tava, who has won several NAMA awards, worked with Light Image Productions on Flowers of Dry Thorns. She has proved to be a person of many facets. In the story she plays the role of an honest wife who is concerned about the couple’s challenge, but is having a discreet affair with the headman. Kudos to her as she brought a real Rudo character.
- Ronald Gwindi, known in the arts circles as Bhuru Remashanga, culminating in the character name Bhuru, brought out the real person for the character, an alcohol guzzler, a food munching machine, and huge in stature. He has done a lot of music videos with Lady Bee as well as comedy short films. Actually when we did the precursor to the film entitled Muchero weMusango, he played well. We had to write the script with his role already taken.
- Diana Samkange Mangwenya is a mbira musician who also provided the music for the film. When we worked with her on one of our productions, 206 Bones, she did well and I asked if she could take a rural set up character? She answered, “Melgin, you don’t know me.” Well she played her character beyond expectation. I am actually planning a sequel to the film because of how the cast played out their roles.
- Stella January, one of the most experienced actors in the Zimbabwean film industry, appearing in several ZBC screenings including Mawoko Matema, brought the experience feel as well as that tough person character who does not accept nonsense. While her role is not huge in the script itself, she played it with gusto, and I can tell you that the udience will love her.
Light Image Productions
- As for what the crew. I did Love Is Not Enough, Flowers of Dry Thorns, 206 Bones and The Lamb with these guys, and they now understand what we want to achieve as Light Image Productions. They did well in our previous productions. Special mention goes to Munashe Chitsiga and Mapfumo Katsaya who are co-writers of the film. They had to bring in spicing material to the story and boom, it was something I liked and can stand tall and say it’s nice. The camera team, sound, locations and set, logistics, runners and everyone did their exceptionally well despite that we shot it when it was raining cats and dogs. They all had to dig in for extra patience.
Who is going to watch Chihombiro
- I can safely say this will be a hit with Zimbabwean local film goers not only because of how things play out, but the action in the movie brings back memories of growing up in the rural areas. For example there is a scene of Bhuru in the cattle pen trampling on cow dung with bare feet and playing tsoro, a traditional game. Then there are the twists and turns as solutions to the original problem are generated and they all fail.
- The film was shot in Seke rural area, precisely KwaJonasi. The locations brought a complete rural feeling with green mealies, dogs, chickens, cattle, those round huts with soot on the grass thatches. The film was shot during daytime and nights. Yes logistical challenges were faced especially on punctuality from cast and crew to get to their pick up points. However we pushed well to finish the project in time.
State of Zimbabwe movies
- Firstly producing movies in Zimbabwe is damn expensive because no-one can offer you a location for free in exchange for credits, let alone even a lunch in a exchange for a marketing return for them. Over and above these, the biggest challenge comes from the government which, despite failing to fund a potential multi-million dollar industry, has allowed piracy to milk away any potential source of income. The laws are not prohibitive enough as many people have made a living out of burning pirated discs. We now have a lot of films in film-makers houses, but they are scared to release their stuff to the market, where hungry wolves and hyenas are waiting to pounce. If we had the government backing us, there is no way movie houses would be allowed to show foreign films without taking aboard a percentage of local productions.That will then cascade to the local film goers appreciating local movies beyond premieres. For example most of Light Image Productions are showing on Zambezi Magic, Channel 160 which does not offer maximum coverage for the Zimbabwean audience. Hopefully we will penetrate the Zimbabwean market using various channels in Zimbabwe. The good thing is we are not passers-by in the film industry, we are here to stay despite the challenges.
Challenge of shooting in Zimbabwe, marketing etc
- We operated on a shoe string budget. We only did rehearsals for a day because of budgetary constraints. We are still owing for hired equipment. As for media with regards to the premiere, we have been trying to have more media houses interview not only me, but even part of the cast and crew, but the problem is who do you know in some houses. Some have been very helpful, including radio and print media. But we are not cry babies. We always review our programmes and plan accordingly.As for the marketing technicalities, we expect to take this movie to Africa and beyond. Actually Zambezi magic has already bought the movie. I am talking to a UK based promoter who wants to premiere Chihombiro in UK. I believe we will make it finally.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk the ten things about Chihombiro. I am Melgin Tafirenyika.
Vote for Melgin Tafirenyika in the Zimbabwe Excellence Awards