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Malawi makes history in Focus on Ability Film Fest

Nyirenda hands over a dummy cheque to the winner on the local scene recently

DISABILITY IS NOT INABILITY—Kagoya’s film ‘Chosen’ made it to top five

A short film titled Under Heavy Rock by a Malawian Martin Mkandawire Thursday triumphed in the Focus on Ability Film Festival on the international platform coming out as the Best International Short Film.

This is the first time a film done by a Malawian has won on the international platform since the awards started in Australia.

The good news comes barely a week after Focus on Ability Society (Foas) held the Malawi contest which saw Dzaleka Filmmakers and Philip Kuipa triumph with their films It’s Not My Fault and Resilience respectively.

For coming out top, the film which outclassed four other films received US$ 5,000.

Another short film by a Malawian, Sam Majamanda – Chosen featuring a nine-year old boy Talandira Kagoya, also made it in the top five with most online votes but did not win.

The film however, produced the Best Actor, Kagoya, who went away with US$ 250.

Foas Executive Director MacDonald Nyirenda said Thursday that the triumph of a film by a Malawian is a great recognition to the country.

“This just tells that Malawi’s citizens with disability have equal abilities as any other citizen,” Nyirenda said.

He said the win also makes a big statement that Malawians have skills to generate content through film for international view.

“These films are appealing for action and are advocating for disability inclusion in all aspects of development as stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goal number 10, equality, no-one should be left out,” Nyirenda said.

Nyirenda described 2020 as a great year despite Covid-19 pandemic saying the country has made an improvement from 12 films to 26 films.

He called on parents of children with ability in the country to support them and send them to school as well as encourage them when they notice their talents.

Ryan Goodwin from Focus on Ability headquarters in Sydney, Australia, has since congratulated the winners.

Focus on Ability Short Film Festival is an international initiative by Nova Employment in Australia. The festival is aimed at raising awareness of the abilities of people with a disability through short films.

Every year the festival asks filmmakers to produce short films to encourage the community to become more aware of the abilities of people with a disability.

The event was founded in 2009 by Nova Employment Chief Executive Officer Martin Wren before Malawi also created a festival on the local level.

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