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November 18, 2006

Another Film set for Zambia

By Jabbes Mvula, USA - Yezi-Arts Promotions and Productions, a Zambian independent production house is set to produce a ninety minutes film with a working title, “Nkhondo Ya Mkwezalamba, (War of Sacrifice). This is a feature film based on the documentation of human experiences dramatically presented on Zambia’s contribution to the liberation struggles in Southern Africa.

Zambia’s involvements in the wars of southern Africa have had serious political, social and economic implications even today. It was home to many liberation movements, who later formed new governments in the sub-region after dismantling the colonial masters in their respective nations. Self rule dawned in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, with the assistance of this country. In the words of Winnie Mandela: "Zambia was the midwife of the struggle in the region, and South Africa was the last child it assisted in freeing from colonialism and imperialism but this was with a great human, economic and social costs”.

The story is revealed in a dramatic way in contemporary Zambia: ‘Musada a former soldier, now a mental patient, was part of the defense forces during the liberation struggles. He suffered torture and witnessed the waste atrocities inflicted on the innocent villagers during the incursions by rebel soldiers. His mind is lost when he sees crater where his parent’s house once stood, and he ends up on the streets as a vagabond. Picked for a psychoanalysis treatment at one of the mental hospitals, reveals a lot what Zambia had to pass through during the war, highlighting frontline reconstructions with enemy forces; reflecting the answered questions on whether the war was justified or not and ultimately post-war seeking answers on whether Zambia paid the price in vain. Kondwa, his doctor, the psychiatrist, occurs to be one of the internally displaced persons who was served by Musada at one of the villages during a rebel incursion’.

Besides the theatrical movie, Yezi Arts will also produce a documentary which will be more than factual with interesting information that has come their way in this project. There is a lot that happened during this important era in our history, which many of our people are not aware of. Even the basics around who was Maina Soko – what role did she play? And, how did we lose her innocent life? In short, it is shocking that this important era, sometimes less than the cost of the fight for independence, is not part of our political history being taught in schools. In fact, research establishes that most of our citizens below the ages of 35 least know anything about our involvement in the struggle. And, this is not only limited to Zambia, it transcends even in the same countries that have since been liberated.

According to the producers, the film is expected to be produced within a period of six months commencing this coming year. Auditions for the film are expected in early December, followed by training of the different artists who will take up respective roles in the enactment.

“All logistics in place, this film should be available to the public within an optimistic period of six months. It has a budget of close to K270million, and we can safely say we have commitments of approximately K100million. So far we have spent over K40million in the research and part of the pre-production phase. Now we have decided to go public also with the hope that interested individuals, business houses and government may find a way of partnering with us. We hope Zambians can rise to the challenge and assist us in telling this story for posterity’s sake. We are a country and we have a history, and this history needs to be documented and disseminated to the current and future generations”.

Yezi-Arts Promotions and Productions sees this film also as timely with the impending SADC Heads of Summit and chair that Zambia will host in 2007, and it is an opportunity that our political leaders cease an opportunity to be part of our creative industry in which we can chronicle our contributions to the immense but untold role in the region.

Zambian Soap makes it on M-net

By Jabbes Mvula, USA - A Zambian local television soap opera produced by Mwazanato Studios on the Copperbelt, has been signed up by Africa's largest Cable M-net South Africa. The soap entitled 'What a Life', started showing on Africa Magic channel 104 on 07th November 2006. It is being broadcast from Monday to Friday every week.

Mwazanato Studios Head of Public Relations, Nkhondowe Fumeshi announced this in a statement to ZNBC news in Lusaka. What a Life which has been aired on ZNBC TV for the past two and half years will be the first Zambian program to show on Mnet.

The soap depicts an African way of life, particularly Zambian cultures, beliefs and traditions.

November 16, 2006

Morgan Freeman to grace South African Film Festival

By Jabbes Mvula, USA - The Sithengi Film and Television Market has announced that they will be hosting a celebrity roundtable to help facilitate the exchange of ideas between actors, producers and other players in the cinema, television and entertainment industries. Sithengi festival organisers announced on their website that during this year's festival that takes place this week, they will be hosting discussions between American and African personalities in the film industry.

The event, to be held at Cape Town’s Artscape on 16 November, will feature Morgan Freeman as the guest of honour. Freeman will be playing former president Nelson Mandela in the upcoming movie, “Long Walk to Freedom”.

The roundtable will happen during the Cape Town World Cinema Festival, which runs between 14 and 21 November.

In the two days of panel discussions, US entertainment industry representatives will be speaking to leading South African talent, such Tsotsi director, Gavin Hood, and Tony nominee and Yesterday star, Leleti Khumalo. Among the participants in the discussions are Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, SABC CEO Dali Mpofu, Tsotsi star Presley Chuenyagae, actor John Kani, and Anant Singh.

Sithengi CEO, Mike Auret, says, “the discussions will give us an opportunity to learn how to nurture and promote homegrown talent, explore opportunities for collaborations, and speak out about the challenges that both nations continue to face.

“Our US counterparts will also be able to learn about opportunities in South Africa, such as Ministry of Arts and Culture funding for overseas productions being shot in South Africa”.

The roundable will be organised into panel discussions and Q&A sessions. These will include special sessions focused on television, film talent, screenwriting and music video.

Topics under discussion include:

* The challenges entertainers and professionals face in their own countries and the means of overcoming them
* What the US and SA can learn from each other, and opportunities for collaboration
* How a SA company can set up a production company to work in the US, and vice versa
* How new technologies, such as the internet, broadband and video-on-demand, can help promote SA content
* Strategies to protect intellectual property rights and fight piracy
* Television opportunities for US production companies in SA
* How can the entertainment industry promote HIV awareness, safer decision-making and fighting stigmas

According to Auret, Sithengi’s significance in the local entertainment landscape will continue to grow as South African cinema has comes into its own - the recent Oscar victory for Best Foreign Language Film, Tsotsi, and last year’s Oscar nomination in the same category for Yesterday, being two examples. “The country’s diverse locations, affordable, experienced talent pool and use of English have made it an important resource for a growing number of Hollywood films, including Ali, Hotel Rwanda and The Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo di Caprio”.

The Sithengi Celebrity Tour will bring speakers to Johannesburg and Soweto, Kruger National Park for a luxury safari and Cape Town.

October 2006 – Black Month For Zambia Theatre

By Leonard Koloko and Ackson Tembo, Zambia - The month of October 2006 can best be described as a Black month for theatre artists in Zambia as three prominent artists Kingsley Sinkala, Sonny Ngwenya and Cosmas Gabriel Mpundu died during the month. The untimely, horrendous and brutal demise of one of Zambia’s theatrical heroes has really saddened the artistic fraternity. In Kingsley Sinkala we have lost an ambassador, a friend, a musician, an actor, producer, director and arts promoter.

Kingsley was killed by armed bandits in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was shot by four men who raided his landlord's house in Rundburg residential area on Saturday 30th September 2006. He was gunned down when he tried to rescue his landlord who had been attacked by armed bandits. The late Kingsley was 43years and is survived by a wife and five children.

Kingsley had been on the art scene for entirely all of his lifetime having taken part in the ZANTAA festivals of the 70s and 80s as a schoolboy at Ndeke Secondary School. This was the time when, together with, the late Graig Lungu, Maidstone Mulenga, Elijah Daka, Danny Chanda and scores of other upstarts founded the youthful but powerful Tithandidze Theatre Group. Kingsley excelled both as an actor and a playwright and actually conceived a good number of plays that were accredited as having been written by the late Graig Lungu. Among such plays were ‘Woman is Queen’, ‘Den of Torment’, ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Forsaken’ and ‘Love Enchained’.

His theatrical prowess continued at Zambia National Service where he helped found KAFUNASE, the Kafue National Service Drama Group, which later became ZANASE. For some time after the Zambia National Service stint, Kingsley led what one would call a peripatetic life, living in about four towns a long the Great North road. He was in Lusaka, Kabwe, Kapiri Mposhi and Kitwe, and in all these towns, he was involved in various theatrical activities. It was the Venus Theatre Club project in Kabwe that catapulted him to greater heights when he played a leading role in ‘Kalicheli,’ a musical production penned, produced and directed by the late Kwaleyela Ikafa. In this successful and highly acclaimed production, Kingsley Sinkala played the leading role of Kalicheli.

In ‘Kalicheli', he partnered well with Belinda Dube who played the role of ‘Sheli’. The play went on to win an award at the 1982 TAZ Festival and was one of the best pieces ever to be screened on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Television.

Kingsley, fondly known as King, went on to push his talent to the top when he featured in a memorial play for the late Haggai Chisulo. ‘Haggai Remembered’ was a compilation of six excerpts from six plays in which Chisulo had played the leading role. The director Mumba Kapumpa wanted an energetic actor who could play Haggai’s roles in these excerpts, and Kingsley scooped the part. The role was extremely demanding because the characters varied and the play was fast paced requiring someone who would change character and costume quickly enough so that it’s continuity was not disturbed.

Kingsley stole the hearts of the audience when ‘Haggai Remembered’ premiered at Evelyn Hone College Hall. Many would recall how Kingsley changed from being an American guy in ‘I’ve Always Been A Stranger Here’, to ‘Che’ in ‘Che Guevara’, to ‘Kamunu’ in ‘Hunter of God’ and ‘Man’ in ‘Soweto Flowers Will Grow’ among the six other roles he played in that masterpiece. The beauty with Kingsley was his attitude towards criticism and eagerness to share ideas.

In 1989, Kingsley Sinkala found himself in another musical play, again by Kwaleyela Ikafa who had now moved to Kitwe from Kabwe. The play was special in that the actors lived in different parts of Zambia and only met occasionally for rehearsal. Kingsley was based in Kapiri Mposhi. The play, ‘Mawe-The Musical Riffs of Conscience’, was performed by CAST ( Creative Arts Simple Theatre ) with Kingsley taking the leading role of Kadansa.

‘Mawe’ told a story of two warring gangs in society ‘The Makululu People’ and ‘The Coach Station People’. These two groups were at each other’s necks with each blaming the other for its own social problems. Incidentally, the play saw the return of the two stars of Kalicheli as leaders of the two gangs. Sinkala (as ‘Kadansa’) led ‘The Makululu people’ whilst Belinda (as Tendai) led the ‘The Coach Station People’.

This contact with musicals brought out the musician in Kingsley Sinkala such that in 1991, he entered the ZNBC Studios and recorded an airplay single entitled ‘Uno Mwaka Tulevota’ backed by The Green Labels band. At this time, he was back with ZANASE as a full time actor taking part in a number of their ‘Play Circle’ productions that were the only local production on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Television.

After 1991, Kingsley Sinkala decided to export his rich artistry to the highly competitive South African scene where he still weathered the storm and represented the Zambia in that country. Apart from teaching drama and dance at high school, he wrote, produced and directed a number of successful pieces for the South African theatre.

Among the pieces that Kingsley did in South Africa, were musicals ‘One Love’ and ‘Katinanga’. He also featured in another drama entitled ‘Room 20’, a two man cast in which he played ‘Jabu’ an undercover cop investigating the activities of a drug trafficking sex-worker. Sinkala also wrote and directed the play. In Kingsley Sinkala, the nation has definitely lost a dedicated patriotic Zambian artiste who worked for the betterment of the arts.

As the country was still mourning Kingsley, the national again lost Television soap opera actor, Sonny Ngwenya, who died in Lusaka on Friday 6th October 2006. Ngwenya entered the limelight soon after the launch of the ZNBC Talent Search for Kabanana soap opera. He was picked during the talent search, and has been featuring in the Kabanana Soap, as a Drug Enforcement Officer.

Ngwenya also appeared in a ZNBC better TV advertisement where he acts as an informer for ZNBC TV licence officials.

Cosmas Gabriel Mpundu, a producer , play director, accomplished actorand playwright, died in Chingola on 19th October 2006 and was buried four days later in the same town. On 22nd October 2006, artists paid their last respects to Cosmas when his body passed through the Chingola Arts Society auditorium.

November 12, 2006

Keeping the Fire Burning (Part Two)


By Cyndi Greening. Phoenix, Arizona USA -- More from the Film Zambia crew members as they discuss their experiences shooting the first dramatic narrative feature film in Lusaka and Livingstone. Recorded around a campfire in Mesa, Arizona, the informal conversation offers insight into the thoughts of the crew now that they've returned to the U.S. In Part Two, publicist and line producer M.K. Racine talks about the growth she experienced. Associate Producer Pamela Bowman discusses the difficulties with locations, coordinating the actors, communication, craft services and keeping Cyndi on the set. Each crew member is asked if he/she would go to Zambia again and what advice they'd offer to others. An entertaining and informative podcast.

Show Details

Podcast recorded in Phoenix, Arizona, USA on Tuesday, November 7, 2006
FilmZambia Campfire Podcast, Part Two
Direct download link above. (Right-click or Control-click to download)
Personal Weblog

Keeping the Fire Burning (Part One)

By Cyndi Greening. Phoenix, Arizona USA -- Film Zambia crew members discuss their experiences shooting the first dramatic narrative feature film in Lusaka and Livingstone. In Part One, Unit Photographer Mike Montesa talks about preparing for the shoot, how many images he captured each day and how he logged them each evening. Make-Up Artist Jeniece Toranzo talks about how she originally thought she would be an editor and ended up taking on new positions to serve the film. Documentary Cinematographer and Editor Robby Brown talks about his memories of Zambian children and the special challenges he faced. Feature Cinematographer Carlos Espinosa reveals the difficulty he had shooting in a nation were someone else was accountable for locations and props. 1st Assistant Director Nick Marshall talks about how he communicated with and coordinated all of the members of the team and the challenge he faced keeping production moving.

Show Details

Podcast recorded in Phoenix, Arizona, USA on Tuesday, November 7, 2006
FilmZambia Campfire Podcast, Part One
Direct download link above. (Right-click or Control-click to download)
Personal Weblog