By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka
HARARE – Controversial film ‘Escape’ was at the weekend banned from the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) for its erotic scenes although the flick is still running in the competition.
The ban is viewed as a blow to the creative industry as well as the power behind collaborations.
In an interview, the chairman of the festival said:
“Escape is a cinematic achievement and it shows what can be done when a creative collaboration across cultures works well.
“The film is a very special piece of work and I am sure the festival director is happy to have it, the controversy around erotic scenes notwithstanding”
Mhando was in charge of the Zanzibar International Film Festival for more than 10 years before stepping down and handing over to the current director Fabrizio Colombo.
Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska who co-directed Escape with Joe Njagu said: “I am delighted to be here and to have a chance to be putting Zimbabwean cinema on the map again.”
Asked about the continuous controversy over the sex scenes in Escape Piotrowska said: “Escape got a certificate 16 from censors in Zimbabwe. There is an erotic atmosphere but no actual nudity.
“I stand by the decision to use these scenes and explore female sexual agency.”
Joe Njagu could not attend because of prior production commitments but he said he too was delighted and proud.
‘Escape’ is the first Zimbabwean film to premiere at the festival in the last six years.
It is basically a film noir fairy tale.
A mixed race man brought up in London finds out that his father was Zimbabwean
He goes to Harare to find his father and gets entangled with two women. One played by Selmor Mtukudzi and the other by Nothando Nobengula.
Jose Marques was the lead alongside Charmaine Mujeri and Eddie Sandifolo.
This is not the first time that ‘Escape’ has caused controversy at film festivals.
Last year in October, there was a ‘neat riot’ at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival in Harare with the organisers having to get another cinema to house the people who had come to see the film.
The film has recently received a Gold Award for its screenplay written by Dr Piotrowska at the Neo Noir festival in LA, the US.
Dr Piotrowska has recently shot an adaption of a play by Stanley Makuwe ‘Finding Temeraire’.
The new film will be ready in 2018.
Dr Piotrowska is scheduled to present a paper on collaborations across cultures tomorrow.
“The conference focuses on China Africa collaborations but I have been invited as a practitioner scholar who really works across cultures,” she said.