When it was announced that Fatsani film will be premiered at a drive-in cinema, probably not many understood the concept.
Also, some may have had doubts as at how the whole arrangement, the first of its kind in Malawi, would pan out.
But the crew had a vision of delivering two important goals, lifetime experience and an interesting story – for the fans.
So hordes of cars of different sizes and classes thronged the Malawi square, Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe for the long-awaited premiere.
The film starts by touching on premarital relationships in schools before moving to the daily struggles of orphans, a reality for many girls in the country.
Fatsani, the main character played by Hannah Sukali, was left in the care of her grandmother after surviving a road accident that claimed her mother’s life.
Like hundreds of orphans in rural Malawi, she has to juggle looking after her sick granny and going to school.
Waking up early preparing food for her ailing guardian before making it for classes is Fatsani’s daily routine.
Strangely, her close friend who happens to be from a well-to-do family is always late for school.
The premiere’s setup was on a big screen in the centre and two smaller ones projecting from the rear.
While cars were orderly parked, there was a problem as some vehicles were blocking others, depending on size.
As such, not to miss a thing, some fans opted to watch the film while sitting on top of their vehicles.
Back to the film, it also highlights another big challenge in the country, corruption.
The head teacher at Fatsani’s school, is at the forefront receiving kickbacks that saw the school closed due to lack of water.
In fact, as a greedy character, Mussa, played by Edwin Chonde orchestrated the drying up of taps at the school as he connived with his boss, a politician in his shoddy deals.
The agreement between him and a minister reaches the climax when their shady dealings culminates in the school being sold to an investor.
Meanwhile, Phiri, Mussa’s deputy who is Fatsani’s teacher and always visited her for part time lessons and to cheer up her sick granny, is silently following up the closure of the story.
For, Fatsani life gets tough that she starts selling bananas for her family’s survival.
One day, city officials invade the market to confiscate goods and arrest the vendors. Fatsani wrestles with one officer, thrice her stature, earning herself freedom by biting his hand.
Apart from an interesting and relevant storyline not only to Malawians, the film also boasts of good picture quality and graphics.
Fatsani has set the standards for filmmakers and upcoming productions a lot of effort is required to reach and beat the level it has attained.
The climax of the film is when Fatsani, goes to seek help from her vendor friend Nambewe. She finds city officials back at the market quarrelling with the sellers.
Distraught, she makes a bold move that turned her into a hero. She jumps on one of the city vans, grabs the public address system and speaks.
“People that are supposed to protect me are in the forefront making me suffer. Please protect me,” Fatsani ends her speech much to the acknowledgement of one city official and jubilation of her fellow vendors.
With the medicine she was looking for in hand, she speeds off home to her granny but she is late as Agogo as she fondly called her, has passed on.
Back at the school, the long hand of the law catches up with the headteacher as he is arrested for corruption and selling government property. Phiri, played by Joyce Mhango Chavula, has pulled the plug on him.
Done mostly in English with subtitles, the film has a few challenges though, as in some instances the transition was not properly done.
For instance, there is a scene where Fatsani’s teacher, after being unceremoniuosly transferred to another school bids farewell to Agogo.
The scene shows day time as Phiri enters the house but inside, a lamp is lit.
In an interview, legendary film-maker Shemu Joyah who travelled from Blantyre to watch the premiere said Fatsani has many interesting aspects which makes watching it worthwhile.
“Cinema techniques were used to enhance the storyline. The shots and camera angles were well chosen so that they would add subtext to the narration and most of all the image quality was of the highest standard.
“The story itself was very touching and was able to depict Fatsani’s plight in a very realistic manner,” he said.