Shem Zemura, boasts of a couple of National Arts Merit Awards.
Life & Arts

3Ktv independent producer Shem Zemura wins plaudits

EIGHT years ago, multi-award-winning filmmaker Shem Zemura, failed in his bid to join the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), a development which left him disgruntled and hopeless.

While the failure to make it into the ZRP left Shem understandably disheartened, his elder brother Nick, who had lent him a suit for the interview, rejoiced at the outcome.

“He would have been a police officer but thank God he is not. When he failed the police test run interview, I was over the moon as I was seeing great potential in him as an artist,” said Nick

He told the Daily News on Sunday that he is delighted that his faith in his younger brother’s talent has been proven right.

At just 33, Shem already boasts of a couple of National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) as well as several acclaimed movies and drama series including the telenovela ‘Tangled’ which has already attracted a big following on the recently launched 3Ktv which can be accessed on channel 293 on Dstv.

The  passionate filmmaker is also popularly known for his directing role in productions such as Death and other Complications (2018), Kushata KweMoyo (2018), the TV series Muzita RaBaba (2016), the TV movie The Fall Of Esau (2017) and Departed (2017).

“He has developed into a perfectionist when it comes to video editing and directing,” said the elder Zemura, who is based in the United States.

Nick has been impressed by Shem’s obsession with quality.

“When Tangled premiered on 3Ktv I was not even worried because I know my brother’s abilities. He is a good playwright but his only problem is that he is too much of a perfectionist. He is not interested in producing half-baked products and because of this he sometimes spends too much time on projects,” he said.

Tangled is a telenovela about the apparently not-so-perfect lives of two best friends. Their lives are unravelled to the point of murder when a boyfriend’s overprotective mother threatens him to choose between career and love.

The telenovela airs Monday to Thursday at 1900hours on 3Ktv (DStv channel 293).

“We work as brothers— me, Shem and Mike— on all our productions. It is hard to separate us,” he told the Daily News on Sunday.

Growing up in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe district of Mashonaland East, Shem, who hails from an arts-loving family, always had an interest in traditional dancing and drama. At Machekera Primary School located in Chimaga Village, where he was bred, Shem made a name for himself performing in plays and the traditional dance team.

But it was at high school in Johannesburg at Albert Street School, an institution for refugees run by the Central Methodist Church that Shem’s directing career began. Shem directed and played the lead role in a play that was staged at the Hillbrow Theatre.

Shem’s career as a filmmaker took off in earnest in 2014 when he returned to Zimbabwe to join his brothers Nick and Michael who were into movie-making.

The trio founded the production company Mirazvo Productions. That was when he made the film My Lady, which is about a man who falls in love with a university student working as a prostitute to pay for her education. The film was nominated for three Nama Awards.

In 2016, Shem and his two brothers began a television comedy called Muchaneta.

 “Muchaneta was a big success and it marked a new era in the TV industry. ZAMPS rated it as the most watched TV show in 2016, beating prime time news. It was nominated for various awards. Later that year we introduced a new TV series, Muzita RaBaba, which Nick directed in 2016, Michael in 2017 and I in 2018,” he remembered.

Muzita RaBaba featured some of Zimbabwe’s biggest music stars in the form of Ammara Brown and Mudiwa Hood. The cast also featured the inimitable Hope Masike.

“It was a major success, winning awards such as: Nama Best Production 2017, ZIFFT Best Actress 2017, IIFF Best Actress 2017, Nama Best Production 2018, and Nama Best Actress 2018.

“In 2018 we successfully made two movies, Kushata Kwemoyo and Death And Other Complications. Both were nominated for Nama Awards in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

“Kushata KweMoyo won two awards: Best Feature Film and Best Actor. The movie is at present nominated for three awards, including Best Production, Best Actress and Best Editor, at the Lake International Pan-African Film Festival being held this month in Kenya,” he said.

Not even the sky is the limit for Shem who has come on board as one of the independent producers for just-launched 3Ktv.

“I have always been passionate about telling African stories to the world. I believe my future role in the industry is to help establish a better creative, legal and political environment for the future generation of filmmakers in Zimbabwe, so that they are able to tell our stories better and reach out to the whole world.

“I would like to create a bridge across all borders in Africa and across the world so that Zimbabwean content can shine and be visible, through the production of high-quality, cross-border collaborations and we must invest in our arts despite all the economic hindrances,” he said. 

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