The period between 1990 and 2000 is perhaps the golden era of Zimbabwe’s film industry given the record of great productions that characterized this decade. From the popular and remarkable mini series’ such as “Mutirowafanza” and “Paraffin”, to the classical “Neria” and other films. Productions from this era surpassed the boundaries of entertainment and edged into the confines of advocating for change.
From the quests of UK, his attempts to woo Sofi and his trials as a bakery and newspaper delivery man. That was “Jit” the comedy that opened up the golden decade of Zimbabwean film. UK journey was hilarious but something communities could relate especially when we there is focus on Jukwa the spirit forever chasing the protagonist.
Then in 1993 the songstress Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana in her youth gracing our screens as as Thandi, a young girl caught up in a whirl pool of love and the pressure of sex in “More Time”. The trying times of youth depicted in the film are significant and relevant even in the present. Many young persons mostly girls have hindered their educational path due to early indulgence in sex.
The history of Zimbabwean film is never accurate and complete without the mentioning of Neria. Neria was and perhaps still is a battle against the dispossession of widows and the abuse of tradition. The film explored the strength of a woman with the survival of her children as her priority. African culture was at play and involved in a tug of war with western culture. Overall a woman’s position was threatened and this inspired a redress of inheritance beliefs and laws.
The survival of orphans continued in “Everyone’s Child” with youth as the center point. Tamari and Itai, swallowed by desperation from poverty are forced onto the canines of a vicious society. The hunger and stigma of the AIDS related death of their parents and an incompetent “musara pavana” thrusts Tamari to give her body to a womanizing elderly pervert just to provide for the little ones. Itai’s pressure as the child head of the family torpedoes him into a crime ridden city whose venom takes him from being a drug smoking and purse snatching street kid to a prisoner with penchant for violence. That 1996 production still reminds communities not to shun children after death tears into their homes and robs them of their parents.
A crucial piece on the war of liberation was the film “Flame” which was selected for the 1986 Cannes Film Festival. It brought to attention the contribution of women to the war for independence. The sacrifice of Florence as Flame and Nyasha as Liberty is something that should extend beyond the statue on the tomb of the unknown soldier at the national shrine. Women played a part in Zimbabwe’s freedom, not just as collaborators but as fighters as well.
2000 seemed to shut the doors on great film in Zimbabwe with Gopal’s role as the talented footballer, tipsy from the praise, attention, the honor from schools and recognition from his father. “Yellow Card” interacted with “More Time” on the effects of not abstaining or using contraceptives. Tiyane loses a chance with Juliet and his son Ronaldo is to grow up without his biological mother Linda who has gone away with Obert to finish her education hindered by one moment of lust. Skido came through as the windows through which the audience viewed excessive sexual irresponsibility.
The decade of film excellence in Zimbabwe had film with a social message acting an agent of advocacy. The promotion of responsible behavior in a period marred with less knowledge and misconceptions about HIV and AIDS. Behind the heavy intent to educate, the films still entertained the audience to the core.