Zimbabwe - Chipo's Promise

Transmission date: Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Language: Shona and English with English subtitles

Every kid deserves a break

The moving story of a young girl, living in the heart of a township in Harare, who is forced to be a mother to her orphaned younger brother and sister, in a community that doesn’t want them.

Little Themba sees a passing truck and runs to the fence shouting ‘Mommy…Daddy’. Chipo, his older sister, takes him aside to gently remind him that mom and dad are not coming back. Chipo, just 15, is trying to be mother and father to little Themba and Netsai, her 13 year-old sister, who doesn’t think her older sister should ever tell her what to do. Food is running short for the family. Chipo tries to earn some money sewing clothes and speaks to her neighbour, Mrs Mudimu, about the money she owes her. But Mrs Mudimu, resentful of the Aids orphans next door, tells her to come back another day. Chipo is relying on the school grant for Themba to come through. But someone is trying to stop them getting it. Why? Chipo needs the support of her community if she and her siblings are to survive.

Director: Tongai Furusa

*Tongai on the making of the film, training, the industry in Zimbabwe and the film’s messages

‘Making this movie has been a wonderful experience for me. I had the great opportunity of working in Zimbabwe, with local filmmakers. Zimbabwe had a rich film industry in the past. To finally get to work with them was a great achievement for me. And then working with the actors, the talent that was there was wonderful. The kids gave their all. It was a fantastic experience.

I’d say that the highlights were getting the performances the way that I wanted them to be. Movies that have been done lately are over the top. I got the actors to tone down and be more natural in front of the camera and to portray their characters in a true sense and not in a theatrical way.

The experience helped me to believe in my own voice as a filmmaker and as a person. I found the guidance from mentors on set to be very helpful. It was a big learning curve…. I just kept my mouth shut and tried to learn as much as I could. Especially as a young filmmaker, when you’re not sure about your own voice and you have a person that encourages and says, ‘okay that can work’. 

I think a film like this will raise the bar in getting people to put more effort and time into making their films. It’s just that people right now are going through a recession in terms of money to make their films.

There are kids that are raising families on their own and as hard as it is, they are still able to make things happen for themselves, which I think is the message of the film. I think audiences will watch this movie because it’s an honest slice of life.’

Producer: Dorothy Meck

*Dorothy on being detained during the runup to the Zimbabwean elections and thoughts on the industry

‘We were filming towards our country’s elections in Zimbabwe and it wasn’t easy to be seen holding cameras everywhere. The government was supportive enough because I had to ask them to help me shoot this film despite the period. It wasn’t easy. At one point we were detained for almost four hours. What still makes me laugh is that the one police officer who detained me was pestering me about acting in my next film. He even called and sms’d me to say, ‘Please Miss Meck, can I come and act in your film?’ I actually thought it would be a good idea to have a policeman in our film as things could be easier next time – no detentions!

Chipo’s brother was a big surprise. It was very last-minute casting and the kid was just amazing. Chipo, the main character, was also great. It was their first time acting and it came very naturally to them.

Currently there’s not much happening in the Zimbabwe TV and film industry. Many of our filmmakers have migrated to other countries. We are just two or three filmmakers left and it’s not easy. 

Zimbabwe is a great country though for talent and locations. I think this film series is going to change the face of ZTV because Untold are professionally-made films that the people of Zimbabwe will appreciate. The training taught me to be a leader. I’m a step ahead from where I was.  

It was revolutionary being a female filmmaker in Zimbabwe. This has been a no-go area for women. When people heard that Dorothy is doing a film, some people were questioning whether I can do it.’

Bio

Dorothy studied broadcast journalism and began her career as a production assistant for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, where she rose through the ranks from editor to director. She produced and directed the documentary Wild Life in Malaysia. Other credits include Not Just a Dog, Self Portrait and Women and Law in Southern Africa. She also produced Tanyaradzwa, her first feature film.

Dorothy heads production company, Afrovision. Afrovision’s mission is to create and produce true-to-life feature films that represent the demography and culture of the Zimbabwean community, focusing on youth and social issues.

Writer: Monalisa Mupambawashe

Monalisa Mupambawashe (25) was born in Harare, Zimbabwe and studied drama at the University of Pretoria for a year before she returned to Zimbabwe to work as a production assistant on a feature film. She assisted in the organisation of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival and worked as production coordinator for another film project. She joined Afrovision Entertainment in 2004 and continues to work on various contracts for film, TV and documentary production. She has also recently worked on an award wining film called Tanyaradzwa