The Mosi oa Tunya International Film Festival (MOTIFF) is one month away – here’s what you need to know


HARARE — For the four days between the 1st and the 4th of August 2024, the tourist town of Victoria Falls will be alive for the inaugural edition of the Mosi oa Tunya International Film Festival (MOTIFF); arguably the first significant private sector investment in film in the last decade. 

MOTIFF 2024, Zimflix, Film and TV Zimbabwe

The brainchild of Dumisani Nyoni, Tomas Lutuli Brickhill, Chipo Chikara-Nyoni and Rumbi Katedza, the event was announced by Fronteras Capital, a Zimbabwean investment group, in collaboration with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ).

With over a decade’s experience in investment across a range of industries, Fronteras Capital has decided to put its weight behind Zimflix (the metonym for the Zimbabwean film and television industry). 

With an array of programs ranging from fashion shows, workshops and an awards ceremony, the MOTIFF seeks to be a marketplace for the trading of rich African cinematic content, capital opportunities for filmmakers, entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe.

Speaking to ZimSphere, Chairman of Fronteras Capital Mr Dumisani Nyoni shared the years long journey that has been taken to the inception of the MOTIFF;  

“We realized that there is great economic potential in the film industry. People were coming to see us about potentially investing in film and we figured that there is need to establish a marketplace whereby the creative meets the capital. This is essentially what film festivals are.

Dumisani Nyoni [Image: Enthuse]

“We then decided to come up with an offering like that in Zimbabwe, and do it in an accessible and world-renowned place like Mosi Oa Tunya, commonly known as Victoria Falls.”

Although the rate of film production in Zimflix has increased over the past few years due to the emergence of online content creators, most stakeholders will agree that there is need for a substantial investment in the industry if it is to become competitive. 

The founders of MOTIFF figured the best way to bring about such investment is to create a platform that brings all industry stakeholders together. 

“We are trying to create a platform for an ecosystem to emerge. When you put two people in the same space, they can generally figure out how to make things happens. But, without that platform, it’s impossible.

“MOTIFF is for the filmmakers who have a need to meet other people in the industry and collaborate and also have a need to find the appropriate capital to deal with the opportunities they’re carrying," shared Mr Nyoni.

Amongst the custodians of the MOTIFF are names with the relevant insight and experience to deliver a world class festival as promised. 

First is Tomas Lutuli Brickhill, director of 2017's Cook Off, the first Zimflix movie to be featured on Netflix. 

Tomas Lutuli Brickhill [Image: Filmfreeway]

There is also Rumbi Katedza, who has produced multiple TV programs and over a dozen feature films in a three decades' long career which includes a stint as Festival Director for the Zimbabwe International Film Festival.  

Rumbi Katedza [Image: Wikipedia]

Lastly, there is Chipo Chikara-Nyoni, a drama teacher and actress who featured on BBC2 drama, The Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan, which went on to win a BAFTA in the Features category. She also featured in Rumbi Katedza's 2011 movie titled Playing Warriors. 

Chipo Chikara-Nyoni [Image: Hannah Mentz]

One may be quick to assume that the MOTIFF then becomes a "big players only" festival, but Mr Nyoni was quick to allay such notions, explaining; 

“Predominantly we have to start with filmmakers with a proven track record, because that’s who the capital is going to want to invest in. Once the capital realises that Zimflix is a good industry to invest in, they will start looking for the others.”

On whether the vision for MOTIFF is to become ‘The Cannes Film Festival of Southern Africa’, Mr Nyoni instead gives an example closer to home, saying; 

“The MOTIFF needs to become the Mining Indaba of Film. All the relevant stakeholders with an interest in mining converge at the Mining Indaba, and after, they go do the work that eventually brings a finished product. 

"Something would have happened at the Mining Indaba that allows that to happen. Film is a product, just like steel is a product; it needs the input from all relevant stakeholders. Likewise, the MOTIFF aspires to be that for Zimflix.”

Mr Nyoni revealed that preparations are already at an advanced stage, considering the festival was announced two months prior to its hosting. He also gave an image of what stakeholders can expect for the inaugural edition of the MOTIFF. 

“Firstly, we expect people to attend a well-organised, world class event that represents the best of what Zimbabwean film can deliver. 

"Secondly, we expect a high quality of creatives to be there. I’m talking about people who are serious about the creative arts and people who have stories and experiences to tell about their journey as creatives, especially in the film industry.”

“It’s a festival for anyone who understands the power of film as a way of changing our lives,” Mr Nyoni concluded. 

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