Shaina: A Story of Hope and Resilience, Now Available on Netflix


The ZimFlix (the Zimbabwean motion picture industry) renaissance is well on its course, regardless of whether the average Zimbabwean notices it or not. Well, maybe if Netflix takes notice, the average Zimbabwean will. 

Shaina movie
Shaina the movie, now available on Netflix

This is why the onboarding of Zimbabwean movie Shaina on Netflix on 29th November 2023 matters. Shaina becomes the second Zimbabwean movie to be available on Netflix, after 2017’s Cook Off

The arrival of Shaina on Netflix signifies the global recognition of Zimbabwean talent and storytelling, offering audiences a chance to experience our reality, through our own eyes.

For most, this will be the first time hearing about Shaina, but the movie has been out for over three years. The movie premiered on 21 August 2020 on ZBC-TV, and subsequently premiered on YouTube on the 11th of September 2020. 

This groundbreaking production is a collaborative effort between Quizzical Pictures, one of Africa's leading production houses, and Impact(Ed) International. Award winning South African cinematographer Tom Marais lent his hand to the 97-minute drama. 

Shaina is a coming-of-age movie that centres on a teenage girl named Shine (Wilmah Munemera) growing up under difficult circumstances in modern-day Zimbabwe.

Her closest companions are her three best friends, her guardian angel named Zororo (Tinodiwanashe Chitima) and her wise grandmother (played by acting legend Jesesi Mungoshi). 

Jesesi Mungoshi
Legendary actress Jesesi Mungoshi

When things take a turn for the worst, Shine must stretch her talents like never before to survive the dangers that the unforgiving world throws at her. 

We are also invited into the lives of Shine’s friends whose stories are also very authentic, day to day tales that we experience either ourselves or through our close ones. 

The oldest, Stella (Gamu Mukwakwami), puts herself in danger to take care of her family. Faro (Tadiwa Marowa) is keeping a secret from her deeply religious mother, and there is Busi (Tarumbidzwa Chirume) whose family is battling with an illness.

Award winners at the ZAFTA’s 2023, Charmaine Mujeri (Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film) and Edmore Sandifolo (Outstanding Directing for a Feature Film) show their experience and aptitude to deliver polished performances in their roles. 

Charmaine Mujeri
ZAFTA-winning actress Charmaine Mujeri

Charmaine Mujeri makes the most of her supporting role as Faro’s strict mother, transcending each scene in which she features, and leaving you wanting more. 

Eddie Sandifolo
The inimitable Eddie Sandifolo

Sandifolo nails his role of Shine’s dubious uncle, Simba, leaving the audience uneasy and questioning his morality and motives each second. 

The dialogue in Shaina is mostly in English, and blends with pieces of dialogue in Shona and Ndebele (both native languages in Zimbabwe). 

Clearly, this was done for the sake of resonance and a wider audience reach. However, at times the actors’ delivery seemed forced and unnatural as they switched across the languages.

Director Beautie Masvaure Alt, a Zimbabwean native, takes to the film her deep awareness and affection for her homeland. Her empathy is evident in her gallant direction. She makes you care about these characters, their circumstances and lives.

Shaina movie
Behind the scenes — Beautie Masvaure Alt and Jesesi Mungoshi

The movie prides itself in being one of the few to have a rare combination of a female director in Beautie Masvaure Alt and a female screenplay writer in Wanisai Chingwendere.

A combination of a majority female lead cast and a women-dominated production team is a stroke for new possibilities and inspiration, especially for young girls and women. 

Furthermore, Shaina manages to seamlessly merge fresh on-screen talent with established actors, resulting in an authentic and compelling portrayal of the Zimbabwean youth of our time.

The movie was produced through the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as part of its media initiative to empower adolescent girls and young women in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The film was largely made as an awareness program to give health messages on key issues such as poverty, pregnancy, maternal and child health, gender-based violence, malaria, and tuberculosis. 

Speaking to Gerald Muchandiona of GreedySouth when the movie premiered, USAID Zimbabwe’s Mission Director, Mr. Art Brown had this to say about the movie;

“I am very proud of our contribution to empowering young women in Zimbabwe through messages such as the one reflected in Shaina’s dynamic storyline. It entertains while providing helpful tools and information about health issues and social challenges faced by adolescent girls and young women in Zimbabwe.”

Shaina’s authenticity, along with its powerful portrayal of young African characters, has turned it into a celebrated gem amongst cinephiles. The movie has garnered worldwide acclaim from critics, scoring 7.8/10 on IMDb.

Shaina has been officially selected at fifteen festivals around the world from Durban to Zanzibar to Seattle.

For her memorable performance, Munemera won the Best Young Actor Award at the African Movie Academy Awards held in Lagos, Nigeria. 

At the same awards, Director Beautie Masvaure Alt, recognised for her stellar directorial debut, was nominated for Best Feature Film Director. She was again nominated for Best First Feature Film Director at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. 

Shaina also won an Audience Award at the New African Film Festival in New York City, Best International Film at the Portland Film Festival, and was nominated for the prestigious Peabody Award.

Perhaps the only blot on Shaina’s perfect record is the opportunity they missed to use Alexio Kawara's classic "Shaina" as the soundtrack.

Otherwise, considering all else, Shaina is yet another step in the revival of an industry that gave us Neria, Yellow Card, Gringo, Mukadota, Paraffin, Amakorokoza, Studio 263, to name a few. 

In 2024, government is expected to release the much-anticipated National Film Strategy, following widespread consultation with key stakeholders. Filmmakers are hopeful that this document becomes a map for a coordinated way forward for the industry. 

Given the right support, ZimFlix has the potential to become a viable industry providing employment to thousands, and entertaining millions with our own homegrown stories. 

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