By Tinashe Kusema
The Zimbabwean film industry last week broke further new ground following the release of the much-awaited film version of the theatrical production, Sinners.
The film, which has been two years in the making, was launched at a tasteful and not very extravagant movie premiere held at Alliance Francaise, an event that was graced by dignitaries that include local movie enthusiasts, members of the diplomatic community, local film actors and the film’s cast.
While the premiere lacked the usual pomp and fanfare that is associated with events of such nature, like the lights camera and red carpet treatment for all in attendance, the main attraction turned to be the film itself, as Sinners exceeded expectations, broke most boundaries in terms of subject matter, graphic content and all-round performance from the cast and crew.
Written by first-timer Patrick Chasaya, the film chronicles the strange phenomenon which drew national attention when three Gweru women were arrested and charged with “raping” close to two dozen men, and then “harvesting” their sperm for what was suspected to be ritual purposes back in 2011.
All this is dramatised through the lives of four women — Samantha (Getrude Munhamo), Chipo (Eunice Tava), Kere (Sarah Mpofu) and Patience (Tapiwa Mavindidze) — who by day are ordinary women struggling with everyday problems but by night gallivant the streets selling their bodies for money.
Upon the realisation that their lives are going nowhere, they are enticed into a dirty deal by Tete Vera, played by Chipo Bizure, who recruits them into harvesting sperm from innocent men who they have to rape.
The film contains probably the most explicit scenes and arguably the most controversial subject ever seen on the local big screen, and those that have seen it have given it rave reviews with some touting writer Chasaya the most refreshing thing to come out of Zimbabwe in a long time.
“It is a brilliant film and dramatises the potential that the local industry has been promising for years now. The originality, creativity and ingenuity that went into this film is at best revolutionary and the entire cast and crew should be praised for the work that they did, which matches any international standard out there,” said veteran actor Stephen Chigorimbo after the viewing.
“The writer, Chasaya, took a very topical story and issue (men rape and prostitution) in this country and ran with it, and that is exactly what has been lacking in our local film. Here we have a man who had an idea and a story that he took to people and managed to make a beautiful piece of art,” he said.
Another reveller present praised the film crew’s courage in picking these topical issues and present them in a tasteful but entertaining way.
“The film contains a few topical issue like the prostitution, the female rapists and certain issues of our culture that most think about but hardly talk about. Now for them (the film crew) to take not only one but all and dramatise in a way that is entertaining and not offensive was total genius,” said a member of the audience who watched the premiere.
The film was masterfully done in every way from the performances, writing and even special editing and is surely to act as a standard bearer for future productions.
The cast is made up of some of the best female actresses in the country, namely Bizure, Mpofu, Mavindidze, Tava as the main cast while Star Fm sportcaster and former Studio 263 starlet Yvonne Mangunda and musician Pauline Gundidza offer powerful cameos.
In separate interviews with the stars and crew, the overall mood was one of satisfaction.
“The inspiration behind this film was that I wanted to write something different and unique which can appeal to everyone, and what struck many people were the rape stories and we included prostitution to spice it up.
“We placed a question mark at the end of the title because we didn’t want to make any judgments for the audience but just lay the facts of the story on the ground for them to make their own assumptions. Even if you noticed, the ending was open-ended.
“The goal was to dramatise the facts, give the audience room to make their own judgments and hopefully entertain them. In that regard, I think we were very successful given the response we have received from the play and now the film,” said Chasaya.
Bizure, one of the most experienced actresses, felt very good about the film’s response and called it her most challenging work to date.
“When I reflect on my days from Studio 283 to this film now, I think I have grown as both a person and an entertainer. Sinners was both challenging and frightening, given the gravity of some of the scenes and the subject content, but I feel very proud and satisfied about my work,” she said. The Sunday Mail