Shemu Joyah’s The Road to Sunrise movie wins 4 awards at Zambia Film Festival

Malawi produced movie, The Road To Sunrise, has been awarded four accolades at the Shungu Namutitima (Smoke that Thunders) International Film Festival of Zambia, as Best Picture, Best Director (Shemu Joyah), Best Actress (Mirriam Phiri), Best Cinematography (William Collinson).

Shemu Joyah: Director of the film
Joyah said The Road To Sunrise 
The trophies
The certificates of recognition

The festival took place from July 26 to August 3 in the tourist city of Livingstone, Zambia where Joyce Chavula and Brenda Nselu’s films were also shown from Malawi.

Also beamed at the festival was Joyah’s Last Fishing Boat.

Director Joyah said the organisers came to know about The Road to Sunrise in 2018 when it won the Best Movie Southern Africa in the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA 2018) and also was the first ever film from Malawi to enter the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category for the 91st Academy Awards.

Only eight African countries submitted films for the Oscars with Kenya and South Africa being the only other countries from southern Africa.

“Shungu Namutitima International Film Festival is one of the largest film festival in Zambia,” Joyah said.

“Entry into the festival is not by country but by film. It gave me a great feeling to win the awards. We are trying to build a film industry in Malawi and perhaps not in the most favourable conditions.

“Therefore, winning such awards validates our efforts. This means a lot to Malawi for it means we are slowly getting recognised.

“The film has also been screened at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival, The Pan African Film Festival, The African Diaspora film Festival in New York, the Zanzibar International Film Festival, The Zimbabwe International Film Festival, The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Centre in Washington DC, and at the Kino im Kunstlerhaus in Hannover, Germany.”

The film follows the lives of two women, Rubia and Watipa, as they struggle to survive in the rough, unforgiving townships of Blantyre. One day, Rubia refuses to have sex with a very rich businessperson, who is a regular client. He lost his temper and violently attempted to rape her. In self-defence, she stabbed him to death. She was arrested and charged with murder. Her subsequent trial became a battle not just to escape the death sentence but also a journey towards her inner emancipation.

Joyah said The Road To Sunrise is a human drama about exploitation, gender-based violence, love, hope, friendship, and the untiring human spirit in its quest for survival and freedom.

He said: “It interrogates society’s view of women who are exploited through the sex industry, and how it uses double standards to judge the men who exploit them. “The story has a profound message to the youth of today, particularly girls, on how they can empower themselves and avoid exploitation.”

The film stars Mirriam Phiri in the leading role as Rubia, Chantelle Phiri as Watipa, and Madock Masina as Shoti, the switchblade-welding pimp.

Other actors are Tambudzo Mpinganjira, Mphatso Mwale, Yankho Seunda, Blessings Suya, Felicity Thunyani, Hope Chisanu, Tapiwa Gwaza and Bennie Msuku.

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