Filmmaker Joyah discusses Malawian film

May 4, 2016   Chanco Bulletin
Shemu Joyah is arguably the best known name in Malawian filmmaking, thanks to the success of his two films, Seasons of a Life and The Last Fishing Boat.

It is for this reason that, on 31st March, 2016, the English Department invited the filmmaker to the campus for a discussion on his own films and the Malawian film industry in general.

The event was held in the Moot Court at the Law faculty, where Joyah engaged in an intense and revelatory discussion with the Head of the English Department, Dr. Emmanuel Ngwira. The talk was attended by staff and students from various departments at the college.

In the discussion, Joyah, who is also a graduate of the University of Malawi, outlined the history which led him to produce his own films.

He also observed that one of the persistent problems dogging filmmaking efforts in the country is lack of professional training. He believes that this is one of the reasons why Malawian films are often passed over at international award ceremonies.

“Filmmaking is storytelling. It reaches deep into our souls. Filmmaking brings to life something that should have been on the page”, observed Joyah.

He also bemoaned the fact that there are no distribution mechanisms in Malawi, because people have not embraced the film industry as a business.

In the discussion, Dr. Ngwira engaged Joyah on a number of issues pertaining to his films, including the absence of overt political themes, the question of language preference, the symbolism of various features in his films, and the portrayal of women.

In response to the last topic, Joyah surprised the audience by readily admitting to being a feminist, as part of his ideal of supporting the underdog in the world. He argued that the woman’s role is often downplayed in society.

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