Beautiful clear beaches, fresh sparkling waters and dozens of species of fish are key features in a new local movie which celebrates the country’s culture and tourism.
The documentary, The Moon and Lake of Stars, has attracted international recognition after being selected in two separate international festivals.
After viewing during the International Ecological Film Festival (To save and Preserve) in Ugra, Russia early this month, the film has also been selected to screen during the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in October in New York, USA.
The 29-minute film, produced by Lawrence Luhanga, tells the story of Lake Malawi and cichlid fish species, their ecology and the danger they face from over-exploitation, habitat degradation and possible extinction.
In an interview, Luhanga said: “I am a wildlife conservation promoter and I admire the diversity and ecology of fish. So every time I went to the lake I was looking at a different angle. I was worried about the lake and the Chambo fish which used to be common.
“I wondered what else could be suffering and the endemic fish, cichlids [Mbuna] came to my mind. That concern led me to dig more about them and write this story.”
Produced in association with Andromeda Africa Education, the film takes viewers into a world of aerial and underwater footage showing the beauty that lies in Lake Malawi and its surrounding territories.
According to Luhanga, the film is aimed at promoting Malawi’s wildlife and raise awareness on the challenges the sector is facing. He has therefore made efforts to send the film to over 50 international movie festivals on all continents.
Having already caught the attention of the two festivals, Luhanga has expressed hope that more festivals will enlist the film for showing so that Malawi’s story about its lake and fish can be told far and wide.
“I have had people from the EU showing interest in visiting Malawi after seeing the film’s teaser. It has also shown that Malawi has the capability of producing high level standards of productions.
“We need to bring more awareness to the world and even the local citizenship. It is only when more people become aware of the plight of the lake and the cichlid fish species that they will come forward to protect and conserve the two,” he said.
It has taken Luhanga three years to work on the documentary which will be officially launched on August 3 at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
Director for National Parks and Wildlife Services, Brighton Kumchedwa, said about the documentary: “The film is a great piece. Very educative, and I encourage all people to see it. It depicts one of the most precise efforts in capturing and telling the Malawian story.”
Filmmakers Association of Malawi president Ezius Mkandawire said the recognition that the documentary has received should be a motivation to upcoming local filmmakers.
Luhanga has been involved in numerous film projects both abroad and here at home. He worked as first assistant director for Shemu Joyah’s movie The Last Fishing Boat and as production manager for Taddja Nkhonjera’s movie B’ella.