The filmmaking industry in Malawi is slowly making strides. The number of movies produced and released by local producers is growing steadily every day.
Not so long ago, Gift Sukez Sukali released a movie Fatsani, then Cathreen Mlenga released Sowing Seeds and now actor and filmmaker Ashukile Mwakisulu has released a movie titled All We Have Is Us.
These are interesting developments considering that the culture of cinema in Malawi is not really that big.
Like many Malawian arts genres, attempts to develop the industry have met lukewarm responses from the market that seems unready to consume local products. Whether it be from Europe, United States of America, India or Nigeria, Malawians are already deep into these foreign movies.
Furthermore, the market is difficult to create with the proliferation of foreign movies on our television channels.
That is why Mwakisulu, one of the celebrated Malawian film makers, is still working hard to revive the cinema culture in Malawi and promote local stories.
“I started writing, acting and producing Choices in 2015 on MBC TV and I have written and acted in over 150 episodes since I started my career in 2005,” he said.
On July 6, Mwakisulu premiered All We Have Is Us at Golden Peacock Hotel in Blantyre.
He said the movie is his first full feature film.
Said Mwakisulu: “I wrote, directed and produced the movie and it tackles family issues such as sibling rivalry, infidelity, lust, greed, promiscuity, revenge, forgiveness and other issues that happen in a family set up.”
He said local filmmakers are doing their best to ensure that the film industry is recognised internationally.
“We are trying our best. I think it goes both ways. Nigeria produces a lot of films and receives a lot of support whereas in Malawi, producers are struggling to shoot films and the support is minimal, but still we are moving forward,” he said.
Mwakisulu further said lack of finances, equipment and access to international exposure are some of the challenges making the film industry in Malawi unrecognised worldwide.
He, however, asked government to create a conducive environment for filmmaking.
“We need to create a conducive environment for filmmaking and it all boils down to government. Government should put in place deliberate policies that enable the industry to thrive. Malawi has huge potential and let’s support the industry. Everyone must do their part,” said Mwakisulu.
For now, he said, he is pushing to have his film sold locally so that he can make a profit.
“I am also looking for some international film festivals,” said Mwakisulu, adding that despite the challenges he is facing in his career, he will push on.
The actor-cum-filmmaker started acting in 2005 while staying in South Africa where he got small roles in soap adverts, TV series and films. He came back to Malawi in 2010 and got a role in Shemu Joyah’s film The Last Fishing Boat as Saidi. He also acted as Jasi in Joyah’s other film The Road To Sunrise.
Mwakisulu started writing, acting and producing a series Choices in 2015 on Malawi’s public broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Cooperation ( MBC)TV.
On her part, Mlenga says she also wants to make her contribution as a female filmmaker.
“As a woman, I know how it feels to be looked down upon and not to be supported; hence, I decided to start producing movies which have stories that would inspire fellow women and young girls to fight for their rights,” she said.
Mlenga added that through her mission, she envisions to tell success stories of women to motivate others to believe in themselves and realise their potential.
In a separate interview, Film Association of Malawi (Fama) president Sukali congratulated Mwakisulu for his production which he believes will help the film industry get international recognition.
He said the film is an indication of progress in the film industry; hence, feeling proud of the strides achieved so far.
“For the past few years, the film industry had been inactive but the filmmakers did not lose hope and are working everyday to make things better,” said Sukali.
He said the film industry has the potential to employ millions of people.
“When I heard about one million jobs, I thought they were talking about the film industry. But I am pretty sure one day this industry alone will employ such numbers of people,” said Sukali.
He, however, said corporates, organisations and government should support the film industry in whatever way they can just like they support music and sports.
“When we say we need to use your place for some scenes please help. When we say we need to raise funds for a film, please do support us”, said Sukali.
He also encouraged people who are involved in filmmaking to be part of Fama so as to benefit and enjoy its fruits.
All We Have Is Us was produced by Tereza’s Dream Entertainment and shot by Michiru Movie Gate which is owned by Yamikani Mbeta and Suya.