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‘Smouldering Charcoal’ movie premiered, gets mixed reaction

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The Smouldering Charcoal, a compelling story of life under a corrupt regime written by writer Tiyambe Zeleza and was adapted for a movie by St Andrews High School and Jacaranda School for Orphans in Blantyre was premiered on Saturday afternoon.

The movie also comes up after University of Malawi – Chancellor College students also adapted the story for the stage.

However, while others commended the students and the technical team for a job well done in the movie others felt the product leaves a lot to be desired as it has several gaps.

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The movie is simply a stage play similar to Association of the Teaching of English (Atem) productions shot by HBI Media Services with students playing miming in a lot of areas. The sound is also not good which needs to be reworked.

Actor Yangairo Yangiro who watched the movie which runs for close to one hour and 30 minutes said the team could have done better on the setting, production and acting among others.

“To me they rushed with the project, ofcourse they have to be commended for the job well done but they needed to do it well. They have combined a lot of work which has not helped matters when you talk of theatre. They have failed to utilise even costume and by restricting the shooting to the studio they could have branded it well,” said the actor.

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But some sharing their views during question time said the students were all amateurs and that one would not expect them to produce a high quality movie.

The movie premiere attracted an impressive audience which included Member of Parliament for the area Aaron Sangala and Blantyre City Deputy Mayor Wild Ndipo.

Sangala heaped praise on the two schools for working tirelessly to produce the movie.

“It’s not easy to take a book and adapt it for the movie. They have made it simple and it will be very useful for education purposes,” said the legislator.

Jacaranda School for Orphans Executive Director Luc Deschamps also described the movie as amazing and said the partnership between the two schools gave a platform to children from different backgrounds to work together.

“The movie will help students do well in class since it is on the Malawi School Certificate of Education syllabus and that they will understand it better,” he said.

St Andrews High School Head of Drama teacher Kevin Troughton who wrote and directed the movie said they restricted themselves to the studio because they did not have enough money.

“By the way we could not go out there in the village to shoot because we were working under strict conditions and we could not have kept the students out for sometime hence doing it in the studio. I know some would have wanted the real things but theatre is changing so we did it differently,” he said.

Smouldering Charcoal which is a set book on MSCE syllabus tells the story of Chola and his girlfriend Catherine and Mchere and his wife Nambe. These two belong to different social strata: Mchere and Nambe are lower class (poor) and Chola and Catherine middle class.

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