Tanzanian filmmaker Amil Shivji to release Samaki Mchangani


Award-winning Tanzanian filmmaker Amil Shivji is working on a short film called
Samaki Mchangani (Fish of the Land) to be released soon. Shivji, the
proprietor of Kijiweni Productions, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest
city says that his film is currently in post-production.

The script of Samaki Mchangani was selected for the Africa First Summit,
in New York last year. It was selected as one of the five African scripts to be
funded by Focus Features’ Africa First programme. It is a short film, but much
more ambitious than Shoeshine, his previous project.

Shivji’s films are social commentaries and are set in Dar es Salaam. Primarily, his
films focus on offering a voice to the voiceless and creating honest portrayals of
Tanzanian culture on the big screen. “The only way we can challenge the
stereotypes that bog down our continent and misrepresent it is to take the
medium of cinema and make it our own. We have to tell our stories because we
know them best. Cinema is the most radical tool to empower the masses,’ Shivji

Samaki Mchangani begins with Godfrey Kitinga, entrepreneur and son of
a parliamentarian, launches the first Tanzanian-owned cellular company.
Dramatically, on that same day he is involved in a car accident which results in
the death of Mama Aisha, a fish seller. Haunted by his series of choices, our
young ambitious entrepreneur reveals more than one face of “Africa rising’.

The film addresses the economic development statistics that have been buzzing
in the international media’s treatment of African news recently, which seemingly
has no place for the human factor. Dar es Salaam is a fast-growing city but what
does that mean for Tanzanians when rates of unemployment are increasing and
new companies are built on land snatched away from locals? With
Samaki, Amil explores the issue of the corporatisation of Tanzania and
the resultant greed and social injustices that spring up from it.

The cast includes Bicco Mathew, Kimela Billa, Betty Kazimbaya, Deborah Dickson
and Hassan Kazoa.

The talented Tanzanian filmmaker started his company two years ago and has
produced two short films so far. His first, Shoeshine was one of the winners of
the Canal France International Haraka grant. The short film, which is was both a
social commentary and an artistic depiction of the life, aspirations and
perspectives of a working child, was produced in 2013 and did quite well in the
festival circuit.

“We picked up a People’s Choice Award at the Zanzibar International Film
Festival and were nominated for Best Short Film and Best Director at the Africa
Magic Viewers Choice Awards in March earlier this year,’ Shivji says. The film has
also been screened at Tampere Shorts Film Festival and International Film
Festival Rotterdam to mention a few.

Language is another area on which Shivji will not compromise; he is proud of the
Kiswahili language and wants his films to reflect that. A graduate of York
University in Canada, Shivji believes films offer people the chance to relate to
the stories displayed on the screen and to “watch’ their lives. As Lenin said “of all
the arts, cinema is the most important’ because it allows you to powerfully and
clearly represent and thus question the mechanics of a society.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here