Zim director’s second doccie feature


A new Zimbabwean documentary goes into production in the first quarter of 2012 with completion by mid-year and post-production towards the last quarter.

Saki Mafundikwa of Gandanga Media Productions wrote, directed and produced a new 60-minute documentary Basilwizi: People of the Great River.

Mafundikwa received funding for this new documentary after his award-winning film Shungu: The Resilience of a People. Shungu won two awards, including Best Documentary at the Kenya International Film Festival and the Ousmane Sembene Award in Zanzibar in 2010.

Basilwizi is about the Tonga people of Binga who were forced out of their homes along the Zambezi River Valley to make way for the Kariba Dam Hydro Electricity project 52 years ago.

“These people have been left to fend for themselves even after independence. I want to bring global attention to their plight,’ declares Mafundikwa.

He believes Africans must tell their own stories and feels that the continent’s challenges and successes have been largely documented by non-Africans. Through films like Basilwizi he hopes to correct this imbalance. As a filmmaker Mafundikwa has dedicated his life to telling stories of the voiceless, whatever their social group.
However, Mafundikwa does not believe that by bringing their plight to the attention of the world that the Tongas will one day be financially compensated for their forced removal from their ancestral land.

“I don’t think this will happen, at least not in monetary terms,’ he continues. “The best compensation though would be sustainable development projects. Tongas do not need aid, they need skills training, education, access to good health care, irrigation schemes and cooperatives in various sustainable projects,’ he says.

Due to the film’s strong grassroots elements, it falls into the human rights film genre.
Funding for the film took quite a while to secure as the director was turned down by some of the funders who had supported his first work.

“I understand why they turned me down this time,’ he says. “It’s because I hadn’t sufficiently developed the storyline of the documentary.’

Eventually the film received $40 000 from Trust Africa and The Culture Fund of Zimbabwe. The Basilwizi Trust – an organisation working for Tonga rights and development – is also partnering the production.

A distributor for the film has not yet been secured.

By Martin Chemhere
Screen Africa Magazine – February 2012


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