Joyah’s Oscar disappointment

The failure by Shemu Joyah’s movie The Road To Sunrise to earn an Oscar nomination has once again raised questions about the country’s movie making credentials.

The snub follows Joyah’s maiden attempt with his movie which has ironically scooped the Best Movie in Southern Africa at the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (Amvac).

Joyah (second from left) and crew on the set of The Road To Sunrise

A committee comprising local players in the movie industry was set up to steer the process of ensuring local representation at America’s most coveted film awards. In the end, Joyah’s movie got the nod for submission.

However, results were released last week have revealed that the movie has failed to make the cut on the list which has films from Lebanon, Japan, Mexico, Germany and Poland.

Ezius Mkandawire, president for filmmakers Association of Malawi (Fama), says there are several elements  that local producers should look into.

He said: “At that stage there are some small factors that we take for granted here which are serious determinants within their selection criteria. Even just the involvement of a director from Hollywood would have meant a lot on the chances of the movie.”

Mkandawire said though the turnout has not been so reassuring, the decision to have a go at the awards was not bad considering the quality of the movie.

Arthur Chokotho, a media personality and actor who has done film studies in America and China,  said he believes the attempt at the Oscars was a jump too high.

He said much as there has been improvement on the technical aspect, there is a lot which is being compromised in the delivery of the art itself.

“The psychological coordination is never present. The tone when one is speaking and the facial expressions are never taken seriously. In the end the imagination according to the creator of the script is never met.

“There is need for serious directorship which will offer strict guidance on how the lines in the script are delivered,” he said.

In his reaction, Joyah said his intention was never to win the Oscar, but to create an awareness in that part of the world that Malawians are also capable of making a movie and telling their own stories.

“I was embarrassed when I went to Cairo and people said they had never heard of Malawi as country that makes films. This is the same attitude shown by people who come to shoot films here who opt for foreign actors since we are not considered of the right pedigree,” he said. This year, no single African film  made it to the final stages of the Oscar selection process.

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