By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
A movie based on Zimbabwe’s land reform programme called Harmony Valley has left some audiences around the world in tears and picked several international film awards.
Set in the year 2000, the movie is about Themba Moyo played by Zimbabwean, Greatjoy Hlatshwayo, the son of a government minister and Jane Bowman played by South African, Chareen Gouvea, the daughter of a white commercial farmer who are in love.
Jane’s dad, David Bowman, played by South African, Pierre Van Nierkik is being hounded out of his farm by a deputy minister, Stanley Moyo, Thulisani Mtetwa, a Zimbabwean actor based in South Africa.
Harmony Valley was written and directed by Zimbabwean-born journalist, Chris Gande, who is now based in the United States.
It was shot on location in South Africa and Zimbabwe, with two different casts and crew from both countries.
Said production manager, Phumi Mbanda: “Harmony Valley is a collaboration between Zimbabwe and South African film makers that is long overdue. We’re telling the story of a period in Zimbabwe that some may not want to talk about.”
The movie features some of Zimbabwe’s award winning actors, Memory Kumbota, Sarah Mpofu among others.
According to director, Chris Gande, who is a digital film graduate of the Art Institute of Washington, the movie is based on some events that he witnessed while writing for the Daily News in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s and early 2000.
“Harmony Valley is a movie about racism, farm invasions and romance. I was inspired to write the story based upon some events that I either came across or sourced from reliable sources of information that I could not use as hard news or feature so I decided a work of fiction would give the land grabs another perspective to the story,” said Gande.
The story of Harmony Valley, said Gande, does not speak to the broader political aspect of the land reform but is primarily focused on a corrupt politician, Deputy Minister Stanley Moyo, played by Zimbabwean actor, Thulisani Mthethwa.
“Nowhere in the movie will you hear the words Zanu PF, Robert Mugabe (then president during the land reforms) or anything brazenly political. Therefore, I wish that people take this movie to be a non-partisan political satire. But then, when you mention the word bones, it’s usually the old who start feeling uncomfortable. Likewise, if you mention the words ‘land reform’, there are some people who feel uncomfortable,” said Gande.
A scene from the movie
The movie was nominated runner-up at the International Movie category at the Mile High International, Denver Colorado, USA last year and was nominated at the Lucky Strike International Film Festival at Hollywood, California.
Harmony Valley was named the best International Movie at the Best Global Shorts, Chennai, Tamail Nadu, India and won the same award at the 4th Benin City Film Festival in Nigeria.
“We are hoping that the movie will showcase at one of the biggest International film festivals this year. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
Gande said his production company, Alligator Pictures was currently in pre-production for a Zulu television drama called Umenziwa, that will be shot in Soweto, South Africa at the end of this month.
“We have a couple of products lined up this year, including one in Zimbabwe where. We will also shoot another movie in Zimbabwe later this year,” said Gande.