No fishing boat First Dawn Arts has unhooked the anchor to allow The Last Fishing Boat launch its public voyage on the stormy waters of Malawiâ€™s film industry riddled with pirates and hasty critics.
The second instalment from award-winning Seasons of a Life moviemaker Shemu Joyah, The Last Fishing Boat premieres Friday night at the Hotel Victoria in Malawiâ€™s commercial city, Blantyre.
Partly funded by the Norwegian Embassy and the Goteborg Film Festival Fund of Sweden, the K16 million (about $48 484) film was screened at the Kenya International Film Festival in October. After the Blantyre premiere, it will appear at St John of God Hall in Mzuzu next Saturday before shifting to Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe the following day.
â€œEverything is set and we are ready to introduce the film, which depicts the clash of two cultures,â€ said Joyah.
Running for about 100 minutes, the film was shot on the shores of Lake Malawi at Makawa Village in Mangochi and surrounding resorts. It tells the story of conflicting Western and African cultures personified by two families.
From a 15-minute preview of the film, one captures the story of Biti Anefa, a primary school dropout (played by Flora Suya) who is forced by her parents to become the third wife of a heavily indebted fisherman Yusuf (Hope Chisanu).Â His woes are made worse with dwindling fish resources in the lake.
Yusuf is forced into a tight corner of poverty when his son Mustafa (Robert Kalua), whom he hoped would become a fisher, turns into a tour guide. Mustafa, Biti Anefaâ€™s former classmate, still fancies the young lady and gives her money behind his fatherâ€™s back.
Driven by poverty, Biti Anefa ends up in an extra-marital affair with a tourist Richard (Zembani Bandâ€™s part-time drummer Robert Loughlin) lodging at a lakeside resort with his wife (Czech musician Tereza Mirovicova).
The lovebirds of two worlds first met on the beach and later in a shop where she was short on cash, only to be saved by Richard.
Obsessed with the love of the local woman, the tourist forgets to honour his marital obligations to his wife. This forces the Western woman to have it her way with Mustafa.
Some critics denounced it as â€œcontaining scenes of homosexualityâ€, but The Last Fishing Boat is a journey through a tricky triangle of poverty, lust and a clash of cultures. The dilemmas are laced with a jazzy soundtrack by Agorosso which reflect the wavering mood and storyline.
â€œIt brings to light a clash of cultures. It took three years to bring the film out and from the response we got in Kenya, people will love the film,â€ says Joyah about his bilingual film.
The Irish Loughlin, who launches his film-acting career on the action-packed boat of cultural encounters, says the film â€œrelates to real-life situationsâ€.
â€œPeople going to foreign countries often donâ€™t understand the cultures of their host countries and that can brew trouble,â€ says Loughlin, a Djembe player who sporadically performs with Lucius Banda.
For Suya, who co-starred with award-winning Tapiwa Gwaza in Seasons of a Life, said it felt great getting into the act.
â€œGetting into the shoes of a not-so-mature Yao woman was a heavy task, but consequently, we made it,â€ said Suya.
Looking back at his first film, Seasons of a Life, which won seven awards after showing at about 12 international film festivals, Joyah said piracy was not one of the greatest problems they faced.
â€œPiracy was not our major concern for the film was copy-protected. Our biggest problem was distribution. We distributed on our own to various outlets on agreement that after they sell, we will collect our dues, but when we went back, they always told us stories,â€ said Joyah.
With a technical crew comprising Peter Mazunda, Mike Phoya and Tawonga Nkhonjera, the film also explores the talents of actors such as veteran Fiddes Kumwembe, Joyce Mhango-Chavula and Ashukile Mwakisulu.