Malawi’s film production journey, despite some ups and downs, has been quite exciting. Many people still have vivid memories of celebrated local movies such as Shemu Joya’s Seasons of a life and The last Fishing Boat, Fatsani movie which was beamed on Zambezi Magic and The Prodigal Son from way back which starred the likes of Viphya Harawa.
Even notable efforts were made when it came to soapies. In early 2000s Malawi witnessed the emergence of soapies such as Mama’s restaurant and Tikuferanji, which has been a popular hit.
Thus, Malawians have slowly gotten used to enjoying local productions though there are still a number of areas that have to be perfected; more so considering that most of the amateur movies compromise on production quality.
Enter Zomba-based Never Matewere into the fray. Here is one man who has been pushing his way through in the film industry. Since 1997, he has been producing different movies such as The Most Wanted Man in Malawi, Human animals in Africa, Nachipanti, Invisible Beast, War without meaning and The voiceless.
Matewere has just produced a new film under his Zomba Film Production, which is called The Last Roadblock. It tackles the issue of human trafficking.
“There are people who have been telling others that they have won scholarships. But once they travel to those places, the scenarios are different. We are talking of issues pertaining to human trafficking,” he said.
Specifically, The Last Roadblock talks about what people who have been trafficked face in different places where they have ended up.
“The issue of human trafficking has been alarming in Africa. Even in Malawi, we have recently heard of issues of human trafficking which is a very difficult issue,” he said.
Matewere said this is why, together with his team, they thought it wise to work on the movie so that people should start reflecting on how best the fight against the malpractice can be won.
“I wanted to raise awareness that trafficking someone to use him or her outside or within Malawi is the same as going back to the days of colonial rule,” he said.
Matewere is confident that the movie approach will help fight the malpractice not just in Malawi but the entire African continent.
“Once I break borders with this movie, the message would be spread all over. This is not just a dream but I have targeted the international market because we are planning to have it on different channels across Africa but all we need is support from the private sector,” he said.
Matewere further said sometimes lack of sponsorship lets those within the creative field down.
“There is talent in Malawi but we do not have that mindset or that eagerness to sponsor the locals. This is why a number of films that I have worked on did not yield positive results,” he said.
Matewere believes that the different locations where they shot the movie would help attract tourists overseas, if well marketed.
But what is his take on the concern from the public regarding movie makers compromising quality of their productions?
According to Matewere, he hired experts to shoot the new movie which also contains shots in Zomba Mountain and therefore the issue of quality has been well taken care of.
“It is true that for a long time Malawians have complained about quality in Malawian films. We have intensely worked on quality and sound. Indeed most of the times the challenge has been picture quality and sound,” he said.
A lecturer whose specialty is drama, Thokozani Kapiri, also weighed in, pointing out that for most Malawian films, emphasis has been so much on story development at the expense of production quality.
“Collaborating with key international film industries such as South African, European, and American film production crews could help. Attending international film workshops at international festivals is another way,” he said.
Kapiri added that academic institutions must also provide training in film sound and camera production.
“Also, the internet is now a hub of crash trainings in sound and picture production that one can access, self-trained, for free. There is a lot of room for improvement and the film industry in Malawi is promising,” he concluded.
Matewere said Malawians need to uplift the country’s culture and history as well as putting Malawi on the map, urging them to join hands by supporting those in the film making industry.
The Last Roadblock is set to premiere in Lilongwe on September 24, 2022. Matewere confessed that his big dream, however, was also to produce a John Chilembwe movie, just like other film makers have desired. This is a project that would cost him K300 million.
Matewere said the objective was to let the next generation have a clear view about their freedom, where it exactly came from, who brought it and what exactly happened to fallen hero.
He added that they were seriously searching for potential funders and partners because the project requires a lot of money.
“My plea to well-wishers is that your hand is our leg, without you we cannot walk, the doors are open wide come meet us we are always free,” he said.