‘Nyasaland’ on global journey … As the Malawi film is set to premiere in US

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Sharon Kavhu

Nyasaland’, the first Malawian film to win Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards (AMVCA) Best movie - Southern Africa two years ago, is set to premiere in the United States in October this year.

Joyce Mhango-Chavula-directed film will premiere during the Silicon Valley African Film Festival, which will be held at the historic Hoover Theatre in San Jose, California, under the theme: ‘Africa through the African lens’.

Speaking to The Southern Times last week, Mhango-Chavula, the vice president of the Film Association of Malawi (FAMA), said, ‘‘Nyasaland’’ has also been accepted for screening at the International Images Film Festival for women (IIFF) 2018 in Harare-Zimbabwe, which is scheduled for August 26 to September 2.

Nyasaland’ is set to screen in competition at Silicon Valley African Film Festival, which will be held from October 4 to 7. The journey of this film is impressively progressing well because in 2016, it won the AMVCA best movie – Southern Africa, this year it has been nominated for AMVCA 2018 in the best movie Southern Africa category and it set for screening during IIFF. I really want the world to see this film as it addresses the ills of the African society. So, I can say this is the beginning of Nyasaland’s global journey,” said Mhango-Chavula.

Nyasaland’ is Mhango-Chavula’s third film following ‘Lilongwe’ (2015), where she is a director, screenwriter and actress, and ‘No More Tears’ (2013), where she is also a director and screenwriter.

Nyasaland’ is about a famous hyena that is paid to cleanse young girls and women sexually, which is quite an abusive cultural practice taking place in parts of the African society.  The story unfolds when Bina (played by Brenda Maelu), the female main character returns to her village to visit her ill father and is shocked to find him dead and buried. 

 While she is in the village, she has an encounter with the hyena terrorising the village and it reveals that it is a human being. Bina, with the help of a young man, eventually takes the hyena head-on and saves her village.

Mhango-Chavula describes Nyasaland’ as one of her best works so far.

“Filming Nyasaland’ was the most beautiful adventure that I have ever taken, mostly because it came at the peak of my career as a filmmaker and, therefore, it was an awesome challenge to produce something better than the previous two films.

“In making Nyasaland’, I was surrounded by a committed team constituted by people who understood my vision for the film. We shot the film in five different locations and one notable thing about the shooting is that the story naturally came alive because we realised that many women and girls in those communities were able to relate to the story as they narrated their personal experiences which we in cooperated in the film. This made me realise that the film was not only relevant to Malawi but the whole African region and I want Nyasaland’ to spur the much needed debate as well as bring about the dialogue between people at different levels.”

Mhango-Chavula has always been passionate about the girl child and women hence all of her films are about women empowerment and in Nyasaland’, she continues to amplify the voice of women and girls.

The Malawian film director has several film credits including, Nigerian movie ‘Reflections’ ‑ where she is an actress and line producer, ‘Kamara Tree’ - Sierra Leone (2012), as an actress and assistant production manager, ‘The Last Fishing Boat’ - Malawi as an actress and production coordinator, ‘B’ella’ - Malawi as an actress and Art Director, and ‘No More Tears’ - Malawi as a screenwriter and director.

She is also a Youth Art Ambassador, board member of arts, productive and marketing cooperative and light of youth creative organisation in Malawi.

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