The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Film Seeks to Promote National Healing

FILM producer Donald Mabido has challenged local filmmakers and artistes to play a part in preaching peace and reconciliation as the country moves towards another election. Mabido said plans are afoot for the release of his national healing feature film "Two Villages Apart" by March.

"As artistes we have a mandate to the people and through our work we should always preach messages of hope, peace and, like in our latest product, reconciliation," he said.

Work on the script started in 2010 while shooting opened in 2011 and was completed mid-January this year. "Two Villages Apart" explores the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation that Zimbabweans can foster amongst themselves.

A young national cricket player is diagnosed with an incurable disease. He recoils into the solace of his rural home where he discovers with shock that rural youths do not know anything about cricket. From this point on, he sets out to teach children this sport unaware that the youths had been torn apart by political differences and are rivals.

They hate each other with a "political passion".

How he goes about in efforts to form a team out of them as he fights his own personal battles is something that many would surely want to watch unfold.

The project was sponsored by the Government through its National Healing Organ and is in the final stages of editing. Funding proved to be a major impediment for the project as most organisations viewed the project as a "financial risk". As a result, Mabido and company had to dig deep into their own pockets and shot 75 percent of the script before the Organ of National Healing chipped in during the final stages.

"The Organ of National Healing fell in love with the story and its uniqueness in that it promotes reconciliation and peace and came on board to foot the cost for the completion of the project," said the 30-year-old filmmaker.

He said the film was not a commercial product and would not be sold within Zimbabwe, as the need to spread the message was more important than profit.

"We are looking to explore every avenue to get the film in people's homes and this includes having it flighted on the national broadcaster and all the local cinemas," said Mabido who doubles as the producer and director of the film.

Mabido also said they would make extensive use of mobile cinemas in their bid to take the film to all the country's 10 provinces as well as the rural areas where they will use generators. The cast includes Emmanuel Mbirimi, who starred in the local feature, "Tanyaradzwa", theatre actor Everson Ndlovu and newcomer Prince Makanda in the lead role.

"We tried to make the cast as 'new' as possible and give them a platform to expose their talents. I sought to tell a Zimbabwean story through sport as a way to smoothen the tension, heal old wounds and urge everyone to engage in dialogue and work towards harmony," said Mabido, who runs his own production company called Tagline.

Mabido hoped the project would help instil confidence in the corporate world that is reluctant to partner artistes and hopefully result in fruitful collaborations in future.

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