Prominent film producer, director and actor Ben Mahaka has decided to bring film to his home town of Chipinge in the form of a television series titled Gaza as a tribute to his long service in the film industry.
By Knowledge Mhlanga Makamera
Mahaka is taking advantage of the Zimdigital Migration programme that is sponsored by the government through the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry.
The actor, who rose to fame as Tom Mbambo in the popular Zimbabwean television soapie series Studio 263, is a recipient of a number of awards, including the National Arts Merit Awards. His productions have brought him recognition at regional film festivals such as the Lake International Pan African Film Festival (lipaff), reaching the semi-finals and classified among the top nominees.
One of his productions was a feature film titled Gringo The Troublemaker, which made it to the finals of lipaff in the Best Feature Film category.
The drama series, Gaza, explores child marriages and gender—based violence in urban and peri-urban areas. The production is being shot in Chipinge’s Gaza township, town centre and shopping centres around the district.
Gaza is the story of Rosy Muyambo (played by Gamuchirai Maphosa), a 14-year-old schoolgirl who, when she falls pregnant to her boyfriend, Remington Sigauke (played by Tapiwa Timirepi), elopes to his home and the whole drama ensures from there.
The other major thread in the play is that of Ethel Sigauke (played by Lynah Dube), a young married woman struggling to break free from an abusive marriage to Dumisani Mudhluli (played by Mahaka), but is facing stiff resistance from her family.
The production team is composed of Mahaka and Yeukai Ndarimani, who work together with a team of trainee camera, sound, wardrobe, props, script people, editors and first-time actors who are interested in showcasing their talents in film. All the production team and cast are from Chipinge except Ndarimani.
Mahaka told The Standard Style that he was not permanently opening studios in Chipinge, but was only building sets for the television series as part of the Zimdigital programme.
“The idea is not to set up a studio here, although that would be good to establish as a long-term project,” he said.
“What we want is to create a production hub of all sorts of talent where we identify young people who are interested in film and television and train them on the job until they are proficient enough to find employment on other productions.
“We hope to have a pool of talent, large enough to produce many local productions for distribution on television and online.”
Shooting of the production is at an advanced stage with Season One of the series almost completed.