I GOT inside the auditorium after waiting with others who had waited for much longer than me — two hours.
Thankfully, my name was on the list of invited guests. So I walked in and had a couple of pictures taken with, among others, Brian Jones and Jane Morris of ’amaBooks and Bulawayo legend satirist Boyd Maliki.
Renowned poet John Eppel was there though he had to leave to attend another function. I witnessed the young glamorous crowd on the red carpet.
It was perfectly gratifying that our young people, especially the women, had had a sense of occasion enough to dress up for the much hyped premiere.
As media and proud residents of Bulawayo’s creative scene, we had hyped the premier and went as far as saying we expected nothing less than excellence from the team of talented young people.
I surmised that the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts. I was dead wrong. But my reason had been simple: I am familiar with Ernest Mackina’s work as a photographer, Nomashawekazi “Lady Tshawe” Damasane as a singer and poetess, Philani Nyoni as author.
I didn’t know what Lenni Sibanda as director and scriptwriter could do though.
Visually, the film was no good. It was in fact atrocious from just the technical aspects of sound and picture quality. I could not make out the faces. Maybe I have bad eyesight . . . We all had sand in our teeth because of the movie.
Lenni the film’s director has a hell of a nerve for even putting the film out there. I have a couple of questions though.
Firstly, seeing as they cite the likes of Raisedon Baya, William Nyandoro and Zenzele Ndebele (a producer of a highly successful The Bulawayo Show), why did they not consult them before going ahead with the ill-fated launch?
They would have been advised not to rush the job. I spoke to Ndebele and he said they didn’t consult him on the movie.
Established film persons would have advised them on how to deliver on the technical aspects. Here, I am making the assumption that experienced folk in the creative sector would have been happy to oblige them with sage advice.
I know quite a number who are not mean-spirited.
“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,” said Lenni Sibanda in an interview with my colleague yesterday.
My colleague Nonhlanhla Sibanda has been experiencing what amounts to hate speech from some folk that feel hard done over her coverage of the movie premier. I read her article and it was a very fair assessment of the movie.
She mentioned the good points and the bad ones which were glaring. Now all the journalists who attended from Southern Eye to Chronicle are in a conspiracy against you? Get real.
Artists must not be this thin-skinned to lash out against fair criticism from a media that has been largely collusive as regards supporting local content.
If the proposition is that we do not discriminate when it comes to separating the grain from the chaff, then artists do have another thing coming.
We will simply not oblige. We are not merely errand boys and girls for dreamers who are yet to cut their teeth, I daresay.
More importantly, let me quote the late king of pop Michael Jackson’s song, You Wanna Be Starting Something when you let yourself throw tantrums at the press for fair comment.
The ego trip
Let me warn everyone in our local creative sector that though they may use Twitter, WhatsApp or Facebook to promote their new productions, ultimately, crowd support in Bulawayo is really down to the cumulative efforts of all the gifted artists who have put out sterling efforts in their public presentations over time.
Bit by bit all the shows in music, dance, theatre and film have helped to cultivate Brand Bulawayo. The media will take some credit for pushing the idea of that brand to the public.
The local public is now buying into the idea of supporting local content. So I will make this submission that when Qiniso was premiered last week, our young people were merely standing on the shoulders of giants. To believe otherwise is an ego trip. Hubris is a very dangerous thing.
“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. 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 above are quotes from Sibanda our film director.
My advice is: Do not, in the future, squander the good will we are all helping to foster for the sake of other artists who will ask members of the public to part with their time and money to witness their performances and productions.
Let us guard and protect Brand Bulawayo in terms of our arts. A plan succeeds with a multitude of counsellors. That is what The Good Book cautions.
Parting shot: Something positive
Nyanga-born writer Obey Machipisi has been working as a scriptwriter with Generations: The Legacy, Isibaya, Vat n’ Sit and others.
Apart from a bachellor of arts degree in media studies, he has a diploma in film studies and another in screen writing.
The 27-year-old was quoted in the local press saying that the current drama on Generations: The Legacy involving the show’s creator Mfundi Vundla and the team of disgruntled actors had not dampened the spirits of the writers behind the show.
It is good that our young people have dreams, but there is nothing wrong with them going to school to get training in their chosen field or at least getting some form of apprenticeship at the feet of a master.