HARARE – Award-winning actress and director Marian Kunonga, who featured in top films like Flame (1996) and a British television series called The Knock, has come out of hibernation.
After drifting from country to country all over Southern Africa directing films, Kunonga has decided to make a film in her homeland.
“It is a community-based film titled Vhacho Kurimbe which will be released soon. The editing of the film soon as editing of the film is now at an advanced stage.
“Vhacho Kurimbe is an old Shona slang that used to be popular with by kombi operators (drivers and conductors) which means move forward,” Kunonga told the Daily News on Sunday.
Though the veteran actress-cum-director “is working on a shoestring budget,” she is convinced all the same that the forthcoming film will make an impact.
“The film follows the story of a young man who finds his life robbed by unsuspecting circumstances he finds himself under, not by choice but by vices within the systems that governs our daily lives.
“Moses Tshuma blames himself for the death of his mother which is caused by his negligence. He has to take over the responsibility of raising his sister Sheila and fulfill his mother’s dream of educating Sheila,” she said, adding that Moses ends up mired in crime.
“With the industry gone and the economy plunging, Moses goes through a life of deep undercover township crime which leads to prison.”
To make the film, shot the Harare suburb of Glen View where she grew up, the 43-year-old used a crew made up of film students and community volunteers.
According to Kunonga, making Vhacho Kurimbe is a signal of her return to filmmaking.
“After making films in many Southern African countries, I decided to go on a sabbatical to give myself time to concentrate on family issues. I am happy to be back and am sure I will play my part in taking local films to a new and higher level,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.
The holder of a bachelor’s degree in n motion picture medium attained from the AFDA Film School in South Africa, has an impressive film-making curriculum vitae.
After making award-winning short films such as Zvinhu Zvacho and Tiraburu as well as directing local state functions like Mzee Bira held in Masvingo in 2005 and 21st February Movement Gala (2011), Kunonga decided to test her skills in other countries.
In 2005, she produced and directed Mozambique’s Ministry of Information and Publicity Solidarity Bash held in Avibeira Stadium in Chimoio after which she relocated to Malawi the following year.
In Malawi, she produced award-winning documentaries that centred on rural development and self-sustenance.
“These include I Am All Woman -a documentary on domestic violence and Anambewe, a documentary on the plight of Malawian Women.”
In the same country, Kunonga joined New Dawn Films in 2007 as an assistant director. She played a leading role in the making of a multi-award winning feature film titled “Seasons of a Life” and “The Last Fishing Boat (2011)” which won two awards as well as being voted as one of the top 10 films of 2013 by Microsoft Service Network (MSN).
“While in Malawi I facilitated the late Andy Brown’s Shangara Tour of Malawi and directed A Zembani Music Project in 2007 before designing the stage for a four-day music and dance Festival on the shores of Lake Malawi in 2008.
“I initiated Thank God Its Friday-a live variety show that included audience participation, music, dancing, film screenings and stand-up comedy under Umunthu Theatre in Lilongwe. United Kingdom-based Daliso Chaponda had his first show in Malawi on this platform,” Kunonga said.
Apart from directing films, Kunonga also directed videos for many top local musicians including Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi.
“I worked with many Zimbabwean artistes and I got the opportunity to produce and direct videos for musicians such as David Chifunyise’s Tauya Naye, Willom Tight’s Ndinoda Wangu and Nyoka Inyoka, Oliver Mtukudzi’s Todii, Nonsikelelo and Sani Makhalima’s Sisonke, Victor Kunonga’s Maidarirei, Mamurega, Hondo and Usacheme,” Kunonga said.
Kunonga also directed videos for defunct Pax Afro, Decibel’s Chido and Madhara, Tanga Wekwa Sando’s Paidamoyo, Prince Tendai’s Naked Fire and International Dirty Heartbreak among others.