When the makers of feature film Kushata Kwemoyo were nominated in the Outstanding Screen Production — Full Length Film category at the National Arts Merits Awards (Namas), which they went on to win, there was an uproar from every corner because the film had not yet been launched for public consumption.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
Most complaints revolved around the criteria used by judges to determine that the Shem Zemura-directed film was better than other productions either submitted or released in the past year.
But, judging from the audience’s response at its Theatre in The Park screenings one weekend ago, the critics have been made to eat their words after finding out the film is a masterstroke.
Set in the communal lands of Murewa and Harare’s affluent suburbs, the over 80-minute-long film explores themes of infidelity, child abuse and revenge, among others.
When Baba Pedzisai (played by Elijah Madzikatire) brings his illegitimate child Chiedza (Gamuchirai Dube) to his matrimonial home after her mother’s death, there is absolute chaos as the latter’s stepmother commits to make her life a living hell.
Chiedza’s stepsister Pedzisai (Kudzai Musungo) also takes advantage of her legitimacy in the household to bring suffering to Chiedza.
However, in the emotionally charged story, Chiedza gets married to a rich man from the city completely transforming her sorrowful life into bliss.
She is determined to shut out the rest of her impoverished family including her critically ill father in rural Murewa.
As the situation gets dire, the elder sister, together with her husband, embarks on a curious job-seeking expedition to Chiedza’s house in a bid to raise money for their ailing father.
The move proves to be a very big mistake for both parties as it rekindles the underlying hatred between the siblings resulting in Chiedza having an intimate relationship with her jobless brother-in-law who spends the whole day at home.
The end is tragic for Chiedza whose refusal to give medical assistance to their father results in the passing on of their father while her husband catches her red-handed with Pedzisai’s husband.
Soon after winning the award Zemura, who could not be reached for comment, was quoted in local media boasting over the production.
“People are curious. Kushata KweMoyo is the biggest highlight of the year so far. Everyone wants to know what kind of movie it is that wins awards before it’s premiered,” he reportedly said.
Indeed while the circumstances of clinching the accolade were controversial, the film itself is a laudable effort compared to past substandard work by other filmmakers of late.