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Zimbabwe's first post-Mugabe feature film - to premiere in the UK

by Staff reporter
25 Jul 2019 at 08:07hrs | Views
Writer/Director Tomas Lutuli Brickhill will host the UK premiere of award-winning Zimbabwean film Cook Off alongside other members of the cast and crew, including lead actress Tendie Chitima, and actress and lead singer of the UK band "The Noisettes" Shingai Shoniwa.
As history closed in on Robert Mugabe's 37-year-long rule in late 2017, the romantic comedy Cook Off was being produced under exceptional circumstances in Zimbabwe's capital Harare. Enduring relentless cash, power and water shortages, riots, police harassment, and the devastating consequences of a countrywide economic crisis, this unlikely feel-good movie emerged to represent the strength and defiance of the Zimbabwean people.

Cook Off, which had its Africa premiere at Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) 2018, was the first feature to be released in Zimbabwe in the immediate aftermath of Mugabe's ouster. Featuring rising Zimbabwean star Tendaiishe ‘Tendie' Chitima, popular hiphop artist Tehn Diamond and the much-beloved ‘Neria' star Jesesi Mungoshi as the grandmother, the film first screened in December 2017 at a homemade cinema on a Harare rooftop.

Soon after, it was selected for the prestigious Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR), the first time a Zimbabwean film was screened at Rotterdam in 22 years. Cook Off will have its UK premiere on 27th July 2019 at the Mayfair Hotel.

Cook Off follows the journey of Anesu, a down-on-her-luck single mother from Harare's Budiriro township who becomes a national sensation after she qualifies for Zimbabwe's top reality TV cooking show, but then finds herself out of her depth battling against professional chefs.

Working with the set of Zimbabwe's real-life ‘Battle of the Chefs' television show, and reflective of the passion and commitment of the film's cast and crew, Cook Off's production values vastly outweigh its modest US$8,000 budget. The film had the honour of being the first Zimbabwean feature film ever to be selected for Seattle International Film Festival, and placed 38th out of 187 films in the Audience Awards at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2018.

"As the economy collapsed in Zimbabwe, local filmmakers got hooked on donor funds and made pieces about "issues", but without their heart in the story. We wanted to change all that and return to universal stories with commercial appeal that could restart the Zimbabwean film industry," said Tomas Lutuli Brickhill, writer and director of Cook Off, and a third-generation Zimbabwean.

"Cook Off has given birth to a new era in Zimbabwean filmmaking," added producer Joe Njagu. "Cook Off moved away from the individualistic approach that local filmmakers usually follow and showed that if we collaborate and put our heads together on a project, two is definitely better than one. It's the direction that the Zimbabwean film industry needs to take."

The film recently won two NAMA awards from the National Arts Council in Zimbabwe: Best Feature-length Film and Best Actress for the film's lead Tendaiishe Chitima, adding to the Best Feature and Best Actress awards that the film won at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival in 2018.
Watch the trailer here!
Writer/Director Tomas Brickhill:

Tomas is the director of the real-life Battle of the Chefs television show that provided the inspiration for the film. Cook Off is his debut feature film. He also performs with his mbira punk band, Chikwata.263 on the soundtrack, which features other leading Zimbabwean artists including Amy & the Calamities, Ammara Brown, Ryan Koriya and the Djembe Monks. Lead singer of well-known UK-based rock band The Noisettes, Shingai Shoniwa, also appears in a cameo role. A number of the artists will attend the London premiere.

Producer Joe Njagu:
Joe Njagu is a leading figure in the ‘new wave' of Zimbabwean cinema. A director in his own right – credits include The Gentleman, Tete B and the popular 2010 film Lobola – Joe stepped into the producer role for Cook Off to help support the creative process.

Festival screenings:
- IFFR Rotterdam (Official Selection), January 2018
- SIFF Seattle (Official Selection), May-June 2018
- DIFF Durban (Official Selection), July 2018
- Silicon Valley African Film Festival (Official Selection), July 2018
- ZIFF Zimbabwe (Official Selection – Opening night film), September 2018
- Auckland New Zealand African film Festival (Official Selection), February 2019
- Cannes – Festival International du Film Pan-Africain, April 2019
- Afrika Filmfestival, Belgium, May 2019
- Bushfire Festival, Swaziland, May 2019
- Nairobi Film Festival, Kenya, June 2019

ZIFF – Best Feature Film
ZIFF – Best Actress (Tendaiishe Chitima)
NAMA Awards Zimbabwe – Best Feature Film
NAMA Awards Zimbabwe – Best Actress (Tendaiishe Chitima) Worldfest Houston – Remi Gold award for First Features

For more information, an online screener or interviews, contact Director Tomas Brickhill on +263 77 709 3198 (WhatsApp) | +44 7775 080 250 | or Co-Producer Zoe Flood on +254 708 939 694 (WhatsApp) | +44 7787 517 418 |

Source - agencies
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