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Editor's Picks Film Opinion

Of Shame, Joy, sex and Atem

By Dave Namusanya

If one’s window into life in Malawi were to be the artistic works of Shemu Joyah, that one would think all Malawians do is sex. Sex. Sex. And more sex. That all our lives revolve around it.
But, that is a subject for another day.

I endured watching his latest release last night. In the end, I left feeling like I had just attended a sermon of a basic motivational speaker…or had just finished sitting under my grandma’s with all her tales meant to instil what she considered as virtues. In brief, it was an experience I would not want to endure again.

Joyah working on a film in his studio

For, while the production had a blessing of resources, it lacked in the storyline. As it had a talented pool of actors, it’s narrative veered closer to the old productions of Joyah which we applauded for either out of lack or because we so believe the film industry here is in its infancy and therefore any baby steps we observe should be nurtured, other than telling the truth.

The Road to Sunrise, for that is what they call that Seasons of a life 2, is an ATEM drama only brightened by powerful HD cameras, a passionate cast and good music (Joyah always gets it right on music). The rest is stuff we award at ATEM (for being good at preaching morals) and in those Micky Mouse competitions Malawian (and other) artist bodies organise.

It’s an attempt at sophistication as it decides to tackle such issues as patriarchy, classism and some philosophy is defeated by the shallow and cliché narrative it employs. Bar the nudity and the strong language, it is something the President should consider using to instil that integrity he wants in Malawians.
That recitation in a court of law by that woman called Rubia, reminiscent of another in a court of law in Seasons of a life 1, is an authorial intrusion that has exposed the film as nothing short of a naked ideological and propagandist product with no ability to show (despite it being a film) but to tell. An essay to drive a point home could suffice than a whole movie.

The scriptwriter(s) regards his audience as people with an IQ of a banana whom, on their own, are incapable of deciphering lessons but have to be spoon-fed like day old babies. So, instead of showing us the violence of patriarchy or classism, he forces it down our throats through a wrong, long and only-possible-in-sci-fi literature submission in a court of law. What an insult!

And, maybe I have not been Malawian enough…when did Malawian courts start having juries, even in murder cases?

It’s not an utterly worst movie if we can call it thus. Somehow it can present thug life as we would experience it, it…I do not know other huge strengths to point at (maybe I would say the cast, although I know they were underutilised…like who makes Hope Chisanu appear almost as a guest in a serious movie?).

However, on the average, it is something we would celebrate because outside of it exists such nonsense as ‘Pregnant man’; and indeed we would celebrate it because it is a fashionable thing for the ‘elites’ and the ‘woke’ to celebrate what they call ‘home products’ (I don’t subscribe to that blackmail)…

Joyah hold his award at an award ceremony

There are a lot of grievances I have against that product, specifically the storyline, the narrative…but I stop here. I will if I have time to play with like I had last night, write a detailed account and of course touch on the academic aspects of it.

Let us not sin it is too early the week has just started. Otherwise, to be a part of the middle class, and the woke, watch that thing. Make sure you applaud it.

As for me, and my family, that thing has just encouraged us that we can also be good and award-winning film writers.

I am going back to bed.
PS: THIS DOESN’T MEAN ANY PRETEND PERSON CAN CLAIM TO BE AT PAR WITH JOYAH OR HIS PRODUCTS.

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