Hollywood-based Tongai Arnold Chirisa has expressed grief at how differently Zimbabweans are treated in foreign lands.
REPORT BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Chirisa, who is in the country for the Christmas holidays, said there was a lot of cleaning up of the Zimbabwean image that needed to be done by the media and arts fraternities.
“It is sad how differently we are treated out there,” said Chirisa.
“Of course everyone is entitled to say what they want, which unfortunately comes from the media, but there is a lot of cleaning up that needs to be done in Zimbabwe.
“As filmmakers, we try, but we cannot do it without the media. There is need for the media to influence people and illuminate the image.”
The film star said he missed the “earthly people” and had enjoyed himself very much when he was taken to eat offals (matumbu) in Harare.
Now 31, Chirisa left the country for South Africa six years ago where he worked in various film projects that included Mr Bones 2, Diamonds, Skin, Robinson Crusoe and Mrs Mandela, among other corporate projects.
In 2009 he braved his way into Hollywood, a move he admitted was far from being a stroll in the park.
“There is a lot of sleeping on an empty tummy involved. The challenge in Zimbabwe is our new guys think it is easy and that is wrong,” he said.
“You do not have room to be big-headed when you are just starting and aiming to conquer the continent. To be honest, in terms of distribution of films today, Zimbabwe is not even on the radar.”
He said in Africa, only South Africa counted.
‘Let’s grow our film industry’
Chirisa, who leaves the country for South Africa on December 27, said there was need for unity of purpose in order for the Zimbabwean film industry to grow again.
“We are coming out of a 17-year-old comma and slowly getting to move our limbs,” he said.
“Artistically, film is the biggest earner today and it is disheartening that today the Zimbabwean industry has fallen. The aesthetic value of the likes of Neria and Yellow card are unmatchable, so what we need to do is to cry to the parents to support the talent of the youngsters.
“I believe it takes a nation to build a nation and we need to support each other.”
“I do not have a car or even a bicycle; though I have a bicycle chain,” he said with a chuckle.
“This is my journey. I took a leap of faith and sold everything that I had when I left South Africa, but I know I will get there. The industry in Hollywood is far different from that in South Africa, it is more like you become a tadpole in an ocean.
“All I have been doing so far is proving myself. I have managed to feature in NCIS LA, H+ and a few other commercials.”
He emphasised the need for local artists to get an education since film is a specialist industry.