Filmmaker Shemu Joyah’s latest movie The Road to Sunrise has not yet been premiered in the country but it has already shown its strength by winning an award at its international premiere at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival in USA.
In a press statement released on Thursday, FirstDawn Arts announced that The Road to Sunrise, Joyah’s third movie, has won the Special Recognition Award for a Narrative Feature Film.
The festival took place from September 29 to October 1 2017.
Joyah, who was over the moon with the award, said they had not thought of sending the film to Silicon Valley African Film Festival because the festival was going to take place while they were still finalising the film.
“However, when the Festival Director, Chike Nwoffiah, saw the film’s trailer on YouTube, he requested us to send the film. Their selection committee saw the film and decided that it was good enough,” Joyah said.
He further said that the film was even shortlisted as one of the 15 films to be screened in the competition.
“We were happy when the festival picked the film and now we are ecstatic after hearing about the award,” the filmmaker said.
Several people through the social media have congratulated Joyah and team for the award saying this shows that the country’s film industry was making tremendous progress.
A movie My Mother’s Story by actress and filmmaker Flora Suya also won an award at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival last year.
According to Joyah, The Road To Sunrise is a human drama about exploitation, gender-based violence, love, hope, friendship and the untiring human spirit in its quest for survival and freedom.
He said the film interrogates society’s view of women, who are exploited through the sex industry, and how it uses double standards to judge the men who exploit them.
“The story has a profound message to the youth of today, particularly girls, on how they can empower themselves and avoid exploitation,” he said.
From the trailer, one is able to appreciate the great work that Joyah and team put up. The picture quality is good and so is the sound.
In the film, Joyah has run away from using most actors that starred in his two previous award winning movies – Seasons of A Life and The Last Fishing Boat.
The film has new faces and its story follows the lives of two women, Rubia and Watipa, as they struggle to survive in the rough, unforgiving townships of Blantyre.
One day Rubia refuses to have sex with a very rich businessman, who is a regular client. The businessman loses his temper and violently attempts to rape her.
In self defence, Rubia stabs the businessman to death. She is arrested and charged with murder.
Her subsequent trial becomes a battle not just to escape the death sentence but also a journey towards her inner emancipation.
The film stars Mirriam Phiri in the leading role as Rubia, Chantelle Phiri as Watipa, and Madock Masina as Shoti, the switchblade-welding pimp.
Other actors are Tambudzo Mpinganjira, Mphatso Mwale, Yankho Seunda, Blessings Suya and Felicity Thunyani.
Hope Chisanu, Tapiwa Gwaza and Bennie Msuku, who starred in Joyah’s previous movies, are also part of the cast.
Wanting to give the film the best shot, Joyah hired South African Director of Photography, William Collinson, to shoot the movie.
The movie will be premiered in the country on November 3 2017 at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
From Lilongwe, the movie will screen at Robin’s Park in Blantyre on November 11.
“After that, the film will then have a theatre run at M-Theatres in Blantyre on days to be announced later,” Joyah said.
The filmmaker also said that to avoid piracy, the movie will not be released on DVD until later next year.
“If people want to sample the movie, then they should patronise the premieres or go to M-Theatres,” he said.
Joyah also said that they want to revive cinema-going culture observing that this is the only way the film industry can make headway.
“Hollywood has survived not because of DVDs but because people come to movie theatres to watch films. That is why we are so excited about M-Theatres opening its doors to Malawian films through its just ended Malawi Film Festival,” he said.
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