After screening his latest production The Road To Sunrise at the Silicon Valley Film Festival where it won an award, Shemu Joyah brings the movie home tomorrow.
The production won a Special Recognition Award for a Narrative Feature Film at the festival from September 31 to October 1.
The Road to Sunrise will be premiered at Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) before another screening in Blantyre next Friday.
The film follows the lives of two women, Rubia and Watipa, as they struggle to survive in the rough, unforgiving townships of Blantyre. Due to circumstances beyond their control, they become sex-workers where they face abuse and violence.
Shot mainly in Chilomoni, Ndirande and Blantyre Central Business District (CBD) plus a few scenes at Sun and Sand Holiday Resort in Mangochi, the film is as a result of how often the society treats women based on his observations.
“The film is based on a long novel I wrote when I was a student in UK about 30 years ago. I never had the novel published, but I began to think that I could turn it into a film. I have always been concerned about how society treats women in the sex industry and most people are quick to judge without trying to understand what makes people make certain decisions in their lives.
“On the other hand, society uses double standards to deal with men and women who are involved in prostitution. Even in the Bible they wanted to stone the woman who was caught committing adultery, and one of the unsolved mysteries of the past 2000 years is that we still don’t know where the man she was committing adultery with disappeared to,” he explained.
The producer says he plans to instil the cinema culture among Malawians by screening his movies at cinema theatres.
“We want to explore different ways of distributing the film in Malawi and outside. We won’t rush to produce a DVD for that would be a donation to the pirate, and there are plenty out there just waiting for a chance. We want to identify venues where people can come and watch the film. In that vein, we have already discussed with the management of M-Theatres in Blantyre for the film to have a theatre run after the two premieres. I think we need to revive the cinema culture that was there in the 70s and 80s.
“We will most likely submit the film for AMAA and AMVCA in 2018. However, we will need assurance that it won’t be a route for the film to be pirated. The copy of The Last Fishing Boat we submitted to AMAA in 2013 was the source of most of the pirated versions of that film. Of course we will also try it in International Film Festivals, “said Joyah.
Joyah refused to disclose how much the production cost, saying that is a company secret.
He however admitted to have faced a number of challenges in coming up with the production.
“I aways have problems with time when making my movies. I have to juggle between my normal work as a land surveyor, which brings food on the table, and film production, which I can say is like an expensive hobby. And as fate would have it, I always have important work with tight deadlines during the times I am producing my films, so usually 24 hours a day does not seem enough.
The Road to Sunrise is Joyah’s third movie after Seasons Of A Life and The Last Fishing Boat. n