Qiniso producer speaks out

PRODUCERS of Qiniso the Movie, which premiered last Saturday at the Rainbow Cinema, have attributed the poor quality of the movie to lack of funding.

NONHLANHLA SIBANDA
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Lenni Sibanda told Southern Eye Lifestyle that the movie did not receive much funding, adding that some partners pulled out the day before the shoot.

“Qiniso is called the miracle movie in our books,” he said.

one of the scenes on Qiniso the movie

“Qiniso is called the miracle movie in our books”

“We had next to nothing to work with, but a script. In the initial stages of production, we approached several organisations and companies to partner us; not as donors, but as an opportunity to build an industry to make the best out of the script which would benefit their business in a number of ways. However, they were unwilling.

He added: “The same can be said about individuals and organisations that have received funding under the guise of uplifting film in Zimbabwe. We had a crew that was supposed to come into the project as stakeholders.

“They initially agreed, but refused to commit to a written contract and a day before the shoot. When several arrangements had been made, they cancelled their commitment. Perhaps they needed that, a rejuvenation of faith.

Sibanda added: “Despite all the challenges, the product was finished and we still managed to pull an award-nominated performance.

“This left us little choice but to go ahead with the shoot. Renowned photographer Ernest Mackina had to shoot the entire film singlehandedly. His cinematographic interpretation has become the accepted aesthetic form for all our projects, as evidenced in the visuals for Jane the Ghost, which screened at the premiere.”

The premiere was oversubscribed with more than 300 people attending, but most of them were left discontented by the movie’s technical glitches.

The sound and picture were not clear, resulting in a number of people walking out in disappointment.

Sibanda said they were still proud of their product despite the technical difficulties, given the revolutionary nature of their endeavour.

“We had the misfortune of screening a week after a poorly attended premiere and even our partners had lost faith in the industry,” he said.

“The levels of attendance for Qiniso are unprecedented; the box office had to be closed and the crowd divided into two; regrettably even though we had informed them, after analysing our data that we would need two cinemas on standby.

“In short everyone was overwhelmed by the response. While we take responsibility for the minor mishaps, as it is our production, our position is clear: We make films, we do not run cinemas.”

He welcomed positive responses from the public and various stakeholders, including veterans in the industry such as Raisedon Baya, Paul Bayethe Damasane, William Nyandoro and Zenzele Ndebele.

“They have not come out and said it was perfect, neither are we, but they realise that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step and ours was in the right direction. In their criticisms, they have highlighted the potential Qiniso has; not only to individuals involved but to the country as well.

“We are grateful for the press reviews which have mostly been positive, although some have been malicious. We only hope some individuals could be more professional with their reporting and perhaps stick to facts.

“However, the well-deserved negative criticism is only a reflection of the industry as a whole, and perhaps the country. We live in a vicious climate (and) there is very little infrastructure to support film (which in itself is a young industry) and art, among others,” Sibanda said.

He noted that most issues that weakened the movie were technical, which reflected on the state of equipment used by the industry.

For example, Sibanda said any movie, and not only Qiniso, looks better on DVD than on the big screen because very little has been done to upgrade obsolete equipment.

“Qiniso was 100% self-sponsored from production to post production, except for the kindness of Mr and Mrs Mambazo Phiri who supplied us with a red carpet and champagne flutes. The cinema has not had a full house since 2006 (and) they were clearly in no position to trust our projections.

“There has not been a red carpet premiere at a cinema since 1999 when Yellow Card was released. The oldest crew member is 26; the only trained actor was Lady Tshawe, who studied art at Rhodes University. Philani A Nyoni, an award-winning writer, received a nomination for his role in the movie.

“He plays at least four different versions of Nkosana, according to the speaker’s interpretation. Qiniso was the first feature film by Ya Sibo Media. Qiniso is the first Zimbabwean feature film which has made use of contained, nonlinear techniques, visual motifs and surrealism,” Sibanda added.

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