Zimbabwe: 'The Story of Nehanda' Hits Right Note

20 April 2021

Producers of "The story of Nehanda", a film which premièred on ZBCTV on Independence Day and got an overwhelming response for articulating the history behind the spirit medium, now have set their sights on Netflix and other social media sites.

The film was written by Major Special Matarirano, directed by Sydney Taivavashe and produced by Tariro Washe, Charles Munganasa, Matarirano and Sydney Taivavashe.

It received rave reviews from fans on social media who praised the team for their efforts in coming up with such a perfect production. Some suggested that the film should be taken to the cinemas, and even to schools for pupils to learn the history of the country.

The 65-minute feature film stars Ratidzo Eunice Tava, Daniel Tapera, Khetani Micheal Banda, John Dennison, Kristina Evans, David Anthony Tibbits, Rogan Evans and Maurizio Vadala.

It is based on the story of liberation war spirit medium Mbuya Nehanda.

In an interview, Matarirano said the film was inspired by Mbuya Nehanda's statue which is being constructed by the Government in central Harare.

"We are planning to put the film on Netflix, Vimeo and other platforms for it to be accessed by everyone no matter where they are," said Matarirano.

"The film was inspired by the statue that the Government is constructing at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way in the CBD.

"Largely, we realised that as film makers we could also play a part in furthering Government efforts of bringing out our heritage and history through art."

Matarirano said the film was shot within 15 days. "We have a mixture of black and white actors in the film. The production started in March this year, the first of March to be exact and we shot for 15 days and had another 15 days of post-production."

Matarirano said they used locations in Harare CBD, Mazowe, Domboshava, Masvingo, Mashava, and Nyanga.

"The film's first première was on April 15 at State House where it was shown to the President and Cabinet and then on April 17 we premièred the film for cast and crew at Sam Levy, Ster Kinekor theatre," he said.

"It was then shown for the public on Independence Day on national television."

Matarirano said they got assistance from various organisations as the film required a lot of props and equipment to portray Mbuya Nehanda's story.

"The budget for the film was quite substantial in terms of human resources, equipment and other things. You may have realised that to recreate the 1890s setting, it's quite hard, hence we had to use existing structures that were built in the period of the 1890s or early 1900 and sometimes sprucing them up to look and represent that time.

"So, while I can't actually say how much we used, I can only say we had quite a lot of organisations that assisted in making the film."

Matarirano is not new to film and television as he has been there since 2010, did the popular film "Chinhoyi 7" with Moses Matanda and Tawanda Sarireni in 2017, wrote and produced his first theatrical play, "Narrative from the Dark", which was a solo act by a visually challenged lady and was nominated for National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) in 2018.

He said people should brace for more films from his team.

"Lots more films are coming. We will continue pushing the national themes in these upcoming films so that we create interest from our people about our history and compatriots.

"Our local film industry is trying it's best, but we need to try more than cry more. The industry has a lot of potential. I think the film industry should pursue themes that promote and give rise to sustainable development and that should fit in the Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy 1. I know funding is lacking in our local film industry, but we need to fight for recognition through how we tell our stories and the themes that attract Government and/or national interests."

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