Shemu Joyah’s latest production, The Road to Sunrise is being screened at the Pan African Film Festival (Paff) in Los Angeles, California.
The screening of the film follows another successful adventure at the Silicon Valley Film Festival last year where it won a special recognition award for a Narrative Feature Film.
“Featuring black movies and black art from around the world, the festival runs from February 8 to 19. The Road To Sunrise screening dates at the Pan African Film Festival are February 9, 12 and 14,” adds the website.
In an interview, Joyah was excited with the news, branding it another milestone in Malawi’s film industry.
“It feels great, particularly because the Pan African Film Festival is the largest black film festival in the United States. It is the kind of exposure our film industry needs if we are going to get recognised.
“The screenings symbolise the fact that we are slowly getting there.
“Mind you, I have always said that we are still an infant as far as the film industry is concerned. However, I think we will get there.
“All we need to do is to thrive to produce quality films. But to make a quality film one has to invest a lot of time and energy.
“You just can’t do it overnight. Also we have to look at all aspects of the film, starting from the story itself, the pre-production process, cinematography, acting for the camera, sound recording, editing, the soundtrack and the other aspects,” he said.
While noting the encouraging signs from filmmakers like Joyce Chavula Mhango, Flora Suya and Elson Kambalu, Joyah believes it is not yet time to start celebrating the gains made this far in the fledgling industry.
“What they are doing is good, in fact that’s the way to go. The more we make quality films, the better it is for the industry. However, I don’t think there is anything to celebrate yet. This is the time to work as hard as we can to produce quality films. I can assure you it is not easy. We still have a long way to go.
“Our friends have had films winning Oscars and others getting to the semi-finals of the Oscars. Those are the ones who can begin to celebrate. But then the fun of filmmaking is not about celebrating awards but the thrill of seeing a world with characters that never existed before unfold on a screen in front of an audience,” he explained.
The director says he has more plans with the film moving forward.
“I have already made the online submission for the 2018 African Movie Academy Awards (Amaa). I am sending the actual DVDs today [Thursday] and I am hoping for the better. More important than awards, I think our industry needs to identify means of distribution that can make the industry self-sustaining.
”The main reason why I send my films to international film festivals is not just to be screened and have people clapping hands afterwards, but I wish to expose the films to potential film distributors. If one day a distributor will pick my film for international distribution, I will then take a sip of alcohol-free wine,” stated Joyah.
The Road To Sunrise 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 city centre plus a few scenes at Sun and Sand Holiday Resort in Mangochi, the film showcases how often the society treats women based on the producer’s observations.
The Road to Sunrise is Joyah’s third movie after Seasons Of A Life and The Last Fishing Boat.
The 2018 edition marks 26 years since the festival started “showcasing hundreds of quality new and old films and hundreds of fine artists and unique craft persons from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, South America, Europe, the South Pacific and Canada,” according to the festival’s website, www. paff.org.