By Sam Banda Jnr:
About 12 short films from Malawi stand a chance of coming out top as they are up for voting in the Nova Employment 2019 Focus on Ability (FoA) Short Film Awards.
Nova Employment is a not-for-profit disability employment agency funded by the Australian government.
The films are in the final stage for voting which opened on Thursday and will conclude on July 3 2019. They are in the category of international documentaries.
Some of the documentaries are not professionally done by professional filmmakers but the fact that they tell stories of people with disability they have stood out to be part of the finalists.
Among the list of the documentaries is by artist Fungai Mutsinze titled I Believed. In the film Musinze talks about his life and the journey he has travelled to be where he is now. The other short documentaries are Our Ability Matters by James Simusokwe, Don’s Story of Improvement by Ulemu Chimtengo and One Leg in the Lake by Odala Banda.
Focus on Ability Society (Foas) Executive Director, MacDonald Nyirenda, said Sunday they were excited that 12 films had a chance to be voted for and win the top prize.
“Voting for favourite films has opened and people can do it on www.focusonability.com. au. Malawian films are in the international section; hence, we encourage people to vote for their favourite film or documentary as one way of promoting and valuing abilities and achievements of people with disability in Malawi,” Nyirenda said Sunday.
He further said, to vote, a person is required to own a valid email address that will be used to activate a vote for it to be counted.
Nyirenda said if the film gets (most online votes) at the international level, it would win a return ticket to Australia to attend the FoA red carpet awards night on September 6 2019 and one week’s accommodation in Sydney.
He said two winners at Malawi level each film will walk away with $500 whilst the two outstanding (Nova-judge decision) actors featured in the competing films will be awarded $250 each during the Malawi award event to be held on November 3 2019 in Blantyre.
“Once people vote, they also stand a chance of winning a $50 iTunes voucher every day, but everyone can only vote once in each category. There are six categories including international category where Malawian films compete among 61 entries,” Nyirenda said.
According to Nyirenda, Foa is designed to encourage filmmakers to focus on the ability of people with disability and that this year they are celebrating 11 years of doing this work.
Based in Australia, this year’s FoA Festival received 245 entries, including 104 school entries and 61 international films.
Nyirenda said following successful screenings last year in Australia, in New Zealand, New York, Zimbabwe and Malawi this year, the competition received entries from 26 countries.
“FoA gives us fantastic insight into how society’s attitudes are changing towards people with disability. Not just Malawian society, but around the world,” he said.
In the country, Focus on Ability Short Film Festival is organised by Foas which started the Focus on Ability Short Film Festival Malawi in 2017.