Making way up in the Gambia
Miss Malawi 2003 runner-up in filmmaking
The African continent is yet to hit the ceiling as far as movie-making is concerned but it has made positive strides looking at the success stories of films that have made it big in international festivals.
The continent is eager to do more and tell its stories although it still has a long way to go to move toe to toe with platforms such as Hollywood in United States of America (USA).
Malawi has not been left out of the equation as the country has also had its fair share of success in the film industry with players such as Shemu Joyah, Joyce Mhango Chavula and Flora Suya among others, producing movies that have gone on to win awards on the international platform.
Such is the progress the country has made in filmmaking although it still operates with inadequate resources.
But there are also other Malawian filmmakers in diaspora who have done well in the industry.
One of the players, one who has taken filmmaking as a serious career is former Miss Malawi 2003 runner up, Lillian Azizi, who is based in the Gambia.
It is hard to make a name in the industry as you have to show the best but at the same time bring out the best.
Azizi’s latest project is her involvement in a film titled Can’t Have It All which is set to be screened in the country next year.
She said yesterday that she has been involved in a lot of projects in different fields including entrepreneurship before embracing filmmaking.
“I have completed producing Can’t Have It All under a production company called Lamp House Production,” Azizi said.
She said she has featured in a new movie alongside 15 other talented actors from across Africa, such as the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.
The former Miss Malawi runner-up moved to Gambia in 2005 with her family, where she did her ICM Business Management and Finance studies and worked her way up until she set up a car rental company called AfriqCars Motors, since 2012, a one-stop transport solution company.
However, this was just something she was doing to make ends meet until she later followed her inner passion to start a serious career in movie making.
She said she had to master a lot of things to perfect her work in the game before finally being involved in some projects.
Azizi said despite being in diaspora, she wants to raise the country’s profile in the Gambia and the African continent and that she is determined to network with filmmakers back home.
Apart from acting and making movies, Azizi said she is also focusing on distributing films on a Pan African platform.
She said Can’t Have It All was the first film for Lamp House Productions.
“We are looking at premiering the movie in at least four different countries, with The Gambia ready to kick-start the premiere tour on November 20 2019,” Azizi said.
She said she was grateful to the entire cast for the support and hard work in the production.
“We started this journey last year in November, writing the script, casting, training and now we are at the finish line,” Azizi said.
According to her, the movie is centred on four career women with different struggles in their relationships. Azizi plays the role of Rosie in the movie and that the character is also one of the main acts.
“The four female characters are best friends, they support each other in different issues both in their homes and work environment,” she said.
She described the character of Rosie as interesting and exciting.
“Rosie runs a hotel in Gambia. She is a strong woman with twin kids and a supportive husband but little did she know that her husband would betray her,” Azizi said.
The other members of the cast in the film include Sarah Dibasey, Margaret Forster and Delphina Johnson.
“Can’t Have It All has an educative message as it tackles some pressing issues such as immigration and domestic abuse. Despite how our modern women may seem free and independent, there is still abuse in our homes”, she said.
Azizi said the story was developed by four writers, the late Alex Thomas, Abigail Leathart, Jay Robinson and herself.
She said that the movie will be translated in French as it is also set to be screened in French speaking countries with a focus in Dakar, Senegal in December 2019.
“We have another premiere in Nigeria and then next year it will be Malawi. I am looking forward to coming back home and reconnect with a lot of friends and make new partnerships in the film industry”, she said.
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