Zimbabwean film director Njagu steps up game

Joe Njagu is a man on a mission and nothing seems to be slowing him down on his quest to be the biggest film director in Zimbabwe. By Andrew Moyo

Besides all the international accolades and nominations for prestigious awards, he is still hungry for more and with his passion and determination, the future looks bright. The filmmaker has started the year on a high note with two projects in the pipeline.

Having co-founded the film production company "Thinking Films" with UK-based film academic and filmmaker Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska, the duo will be working on two movies that are set to be released this year.

One of the movies -- "Short Time" -- tells a story of a prostitute who has 10 days to raise money to escape to South Africa from a man she sold out to the police. The man is about to get out of jail early on the presidential pardon.

The second movie titled "The Escape" is about a young man who travels from Europe to Zimbabwe in search of his long lost father but finds love instead. Both films are going to be shot in Zimbabwe and the UK from February to March.

The production team is tried and tested when it comes to producing quality films and therefore film enthusiasts are bound to be in for a treat. Speaking to The Sunday Mail Leisure, Njagu said their production company intends to tell local stories on the international platform.

"We also want Zimbabwean stories to be on the international stage and this is what we are working towards as a production company," said Njagu.

"Our last project 'Lovers in Time' won an award at a film festival in India and was also nominated in the Best Film category in November last year at the Out of Africa Festival in Kenya, which means we are doing something right," he said.

With a vision of creating employment, the production company plans to release more movies every year.

"We want to change the face of local television in order to create employment for many individuals who make a living from the industry. For this to be achieved, we aim to produce at least five movies every year."

Speaking on the upcoming projects, he said a top notch production team will ensure that everything is on point.

"We will be working with the likes of Munya Chidzonga, who will be behind the camera this time around as the line producer."

Having held Auditions earlier this month where hundreds of seasoned and aspiring actors turned up, the production team managed to come up with a mixed bag of talent, including both seasoned and first time actors.

"Selmor Mtukudzi is one of the individuals who managed to make the cut during auditions so she will be making her on screen debut on one of the movies and we are hoping she will showcase her other talents."

Other actors and actresses who are going to feature in the films include Edith Weutonga, Adiona Maboreke, Eddie Sandifolo, Stewart Sakarombe, Nothando Nobengula, Tendai Wegarwe and Steve Chigorimbo.

He said the projects will be bigger and better as he will be working with an experienced partner.

"Collaborating with Agnieszka is going to spice up things as she is bringing in her vast experience and expertise, so I am confident that we will pull off something spectacular."

The film industry is in a phase where many players are trying to bring it back to its former glory, a situation which is being fuelled by digitalisation and other opportunities that are coming up. DStv has seen more channels accommodating Zimbabwean productions.

"There are efforts from all corners to resurrect the dormant film industry and I think these films we are making are a step in the right direction. We have digitalisation coming, there is Zambezi Magic on DStv, which is focusing on Zimbabwe as well so I think this is the opportune moment to make films and create stars in the process."

Njagu has worked on numerous movies and was the recipient of the Best Director's Award at the International American Film Festival in 2012 for his acclaimed feature film "The Gentleman".

- See more at: http://nehandaradio.com

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