The Sunday News
A STAR-STUDDED movie featuring among others, prolific and animation artiste, Gani Phiri and award winning multi-talented songstress Ammara Brown is on the cards and is likely going to add flavour to the otherwise sleepy local film industry.
The blockbuster is set to be released in July.
The 90-minute plus movie — Far From Yesterday, which also features a brood of other creative actors, is a tale of two cities, where Gani features as the lead actor. Other members of the cast include Jonathan Denga, John Cole, Denise Edwards, Stacy Danana and Hannah Madzikanda.
Gani plays a ghetto thug — Benji — who impregnates a young girl from the suburbs and later dumps her at his rural home with his mother.
“Benji, a thug bred in the streets of Mbare, impregnates a girl who walks away from her comfortable lifestyle and home to start a life with him. When the relationship goes sour, Benji abandons the girl at his rural home with the hope of burying the implications of his actions.
“Eight years later, fate finds him and he is met with the responsibility of looking after his daughter. What can he do when his criminal way of life makes it hard for him to father an eight-year-old girl?” reads the synopsis of the movie, produced and shot by Invision Studios in Harare.
In an interview on Thursday, Gani said the shooting of the movie lasted about three months, where he was constantly travelling between Bulawayo and Harare.
“It was hard travelling between two cities every week. I worked with various talented artistes, some of whom are not necessarily actors but are brilliant behind the camera. It was a challenging but exciting experience to work with artistes from different genres.
“The most interesting part of the movie was working with a seven-year-old girl who played the role of my daughter. I remember when we took our roles, as the thug I was aggressive towards her and she got so spooked that she didn’t want to come to the studio for the movie, as she thought that was my true character. We had to counsel her constantly to get her to differentiate and understand that it was all part of the movie,” said Gani.
He said this was his second time to feature in a movie.
“This is my second time but I have worked on three movies, with one of them being my own creation, Moonlight Cross, a horror movie that we released last year,” he said.
Gani said the future of the movie industry in Zimbabwe was bright although it needed a lot of working on as well as financial support.
“As an industry everyone involved should have their work pass through a board to screen the products. The future is bright but we need to be professional. We should work on producing quality products and not just quantity,” he said.
Gani is one of the few well-travelled artistes from Bulawayo and is also one of the few that have managed to make a breakthrough in the arts industry overseas.
“My love for arts started when I was just a child. I remember reading Shakespeare novels but didn’t understand them and auditioning for a role I practically didn’t understand. “I loved Shakespeare and could recite a character’s words but failed to express it through emotions during auditions. I however, managed to find my way and this is where I am today,” he said.
Gani mentioned that he was one of the first members of Siyaya, then Nasa.
“I have been in this industry for years, I was part of a project at Amakhosi, worked with Nasa, which is now known as Siyaya and I also worked with projects such as Iwisa, where we promoted awareness about Aids through arts to mention but a few,” he said.
Presently Gani is affiliated to an international arts organisation known as Pan-Africa.
“Over the past few months, from last year to be precise I have managed to partner other artistes based in UK to form an organisation, United Artists, which uses art as a means to assist and rehabilitate alcohol and drug abusers as well as prostitutes.
“We work with people who abuse drugs, alcohol and even destitutes. These people are seen or considered as outcasts in their communities and have no other way of getting back on their feet. Through rehabilitation we can assist them in getting back their lost dignity and pride. We use performing arts as a means of rehabilitating people suffering from complex issues (be it drugs and alcohol or substance abuse). We also work with commercial sex workers, who want to leave the profession and make ends meet through an honest and less despicable means,” he said.
Together with one Aritodde Nshangame (Mali) and Tipo Nkwendu (Congo), after attending a workshop in Spain on issues affecting communities in Europe; they decided to establish the organisation in an endeavour to reach out to the people.
“We thought it best to use our art skills in working with people that are marginalised but need assistance,” he said.