Long-awaited local film industry game-changer, Escape will premier tomorrow evening at Ster-Kinekor cinema at Sam Levy’s Village.
Escape is the first feature film by Thinking Films – a joint venture between Dr. Agnieszka Piotrowska from the Bedford’s University’s School of Media and Performance, and one of Zimbabwe’s premiere filmmakers Joe Njagu, a Nelson Mandela (YALI) Fellowship alumnus. It was produced and written by Dr. Piotrowska and co-directed by Njagu who is also the film’s Director of Photography.
The feature film – which is part of this years’ Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIIF) which began on Saturday – has already courted controversy before its premiere because it features some sex scenes, (a first in the local industry) that have already riled up locals on social media. Some are rebuking the filmmakers for not ‘observing the country’s conservative morals’ while some welcome the move as a bold a step towards freedom of expression.
Addressing the controversy Njagu said, “Most of the films showing in our cinemas have the same kind of scenes and no one says anything about it. This is a good film that portrays what is happening in our society.”
According to the filmmakers, Escape offers a modern, mythological narrative featuring a femme fatale, witches, a princess, enigmatic phrasing and a deathbed confession. The film also touches upon issues of identity and race, as they affect those of mixed race such as the main character.
Blending Hollywood mythology with African beliefs, the story follows Charles, a mixed race man in his twenties who discovers that his mother lied about his father’s true identity. On her deathbed, she urges him to go to Zimbabwe and find his father.
The audience follows him to Harare, where he becomes caught up in an intriguing tale of love, lust, mystery and murder. A teaser for the film was released in August and received over 11,000 views in just two days. Ever since, Zimbabwean media have reported with concern about the film’s erotic content.
Dr. Piotrowska told Harare News, “As a matter of fact, there is no nudity in the film and Njagu directed all sex scenes so as to ensure they are not offensive to African audiences. However, erotic tension is always a part of film noir.”
Escape will be screened Tuesday October 3, 7pm at Ster-Kinekor Borrowdale
Filmmakers Dr. Agnieszka Piotrowska (centre right) and Joe Njagu (centre left) on set filming ‘Escape.’