A locally produced movie, The Road To Sunrise, has won the Special Recognition Award for a Narrative Feature Film at its American premiere at Silicon Valley African Film Festival.
Director of the film, Shemu Joyah, said they had not thought of sending the film to the Silicon Valley movie festival because the festival was going to take place while they were still finalising the cut.
However, he said when the festival director, Chike Nwoffiah, saw the film’s trailer on YouTube, he requested them to send the film.
Said Joyah: “Their selection committee saw the film and decided that it was good enough and even short-listed it as one of the 15 films to be screened in the competition. We were happy when the festival picked the film and now we are ecstatic after hearing about the award.”
The film follows the lives of two women, Rubia and Watipa, as they struggle to survive in the rough, unforgiving townships of Blantyre. One day, Rubia refuses to have sex with a very rich businessperson, who is a regular client. He lost his temper and violently attempted to rape her. In self-defence, she stabbed him to death. She was arrested and charged with murder. Her subsequent trial became a battle not just to escape the death sentence but also a journey towards her inner emancipation.
Joyah said The Road To Sunrise is a human drama about exploitation, gender-based violence, love, hope, friendship, and the untiring human spirit in its quest for survival and freedom.
He said: “It interrogates society’s view of women who are exploited through the sex industry, and how it uses double standards to judge the men who exploit them. “The story has a profound message to the youth of today, particularly girls, on how they can empower themselves and avoid exploitation.”
The film stars Mirriam Phiri in the leading role as Rubia, Chantelle Phiri as Watipa, and Madock Masina as Shoti, the switchblade-welding pimp.
Other actors are Tambudzo Mpinganjira, Mphatso Mwale, Yankho Seunda, Blessings Suya, Felicity Thunyani, Hope Chisanu, Tapiwa Gwaza and Bennie Msuku.
First Dawn Arts hired South African director of photography, William Collinson, to shoot the film.
The movie will be premiered on November 3 at the Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) in Lilongwe. In Blantyre the premiere will be on November 11 at Robin’s Park. The film will then have a theatre run at M-Theatres in Blantyre on days to be announced later. To avoid piracy, the movie will not be released in form of DVD until later next year according to Joyah. n