HARARE – Zimbabwean movies, collectively known by the moniker Zollywood, have found their place alongside the revered Nollywood (Nigerian films), Bollywood (Indian films) and even the famous Hollywood (American films).
Zollywood is the brainchild of United Kingdom-based Zimbabweans Tony Mliswa and Thulani Matsvimbo who decided to initiate a project that showcases the Zimbabwean film industry after realising that there was more emphasis on Nigerian films than Zimbabwean films in the United Kingdom.
“Before we came up with the Zollywood project, Zimbabwean people in the diaspora had got accustomed to watching Nigerian films (Nollywood) because there was nothing else African to watch,” said Mliswa.
“Also Zimbabwean people in the diaspora were suffering from nostalgia and they wanted something that would bring them closer to home.”
Two years ago, Mliswa returned to Zimbabwe and engaged players in the Zimbabwean film industry on the best way to put local films in the spotlight. Mliswa’s visit to his homeland paved the way for the Zimbabwean film The Gentleman to be premiered at the Prince Charles Cinema in London in March last year.
The Gentleman — which stars former Big Brother Africa star Munyaradzi Chidzonga and flamboyant businessman Phillip Chiyangwa was showcased in London thanks to the efforts of Mliswa and the movie’s producer Sylvia Chimhina.
The great response that the premiere of The Gentleman in London attracted among Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom, encouraged Mliswa and his partners in July last year to showcase another brilliant Zimbabwean movie produced by Demetria Karonga called The In-laws.
Karonga’s movie premiered at Bedfordshire University.
Emboldened by the success of the UK premieres of The Gentleman and The In-laws, Zollywood struck a deal early this year with Klear tv channel SKY 232 under which a Zimbabwean movie will be aired every Monday at 8pm every Monday.
In line with the deal Klear tv, Neria was aired on April 22 before being followed by Lobola a week later.
The Sores of Emmanuel and several other Zimbabwean movies have already graced the screens of Klear tv.
On Zimbabwe’s Independence Day the television station ran a Zimbabwean Independence Special programme which showed highlights of the Zimbabwe Independence (football) Cup and a bit of Zimbabwean history.
An upcoming Zimbabwean songstress Shanky performed the Zimbabwe national anthem on the programme.
The increasing response on Zimbabwean movies in the UK and other African countries, has enabled Zollywood to cut a deal with M-Net Africa Magic Movie Channel on Dstv which will see Zimbabwean movies which include The Gentleman, Sores of Emmanuel, Lobola and City Of Dreams being aired soon on the Africa Magic Movie channel.
Apart from successfully exposing Zimbabwean films locally and internationally, Zollywood has set up an online platform on www.zollywoodzim.co.uk that facilitates online pay per view or digital downloads Gringo Trouble Maker, Think, Sores Of Emmanuel, Lobola ,Yellow Card, More Time, Sinners, Tale in a Box and many more can be accessed for a fee on the Zollywood website.
“The money goes back to the filmmakers so they can keep on producing more movies as we are aware they are working on low budget movies and as long as people buy the movies there will be more movies made,” said Mliswa.
“The filmmakers are doing their best with the little they have. I am also encouraging filmmakers in the diaspora to start producing films, short and long films and in Zimbabwe for filmmakers to shoot their films in nice places, showing off our tourism and our beautiful country.
“Zimbabwean film makers must also try to make films in English for the international market. We want to compete with the International market and we hope we can only getter better and expose this film industry more so we can set up the next generation of filmmakers.
Mliswa believes the Zimbabwean film industry can overcome the enormous challenges it has to contend with by forming a united front.
“Zollywood is all about promoting our Zimbabwean films just as the Nigerians have done with Nollywood. Our aim is to bring film producers together and market our local films on one umbrella .We want to get our directors together to form a more united movie industry. An industry that will assist each other in making and marketing our films internationally,” added Mliswa.