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Mutare filmmaker fights piracy in new ZRP backed film

The action crime movie Vicious Circle released online on Monday which was wholly shot in Mutare.

…Zimbabwe’s movie industry has great potential: Matope

Fitzgerald Munyoro

IN an unconventional move, ”Vicious Circle”, an action packed crime movie about cops and robbers’ directed by Mutare based filmmaker Igi Matope has been released on a pay per view digital platform, a move which the director feels will bullet proof the visual project from the pitfalls of piracy.

The fast paced crime flick which was wholly shot in Mutare was released online on Monday and is available on PlayAfrika, an online streaming and pay per view service .Matope said that the film is only accessible to viewers after paying a fee of $200 (ZWL) or US$1.50. He said this was done to combat the spate of piracy which has resulted in the local film industry suffering losses after huge financial investments into movie productions.

”The film is available on a pay per view basis, we uploaded it on an app called PlayAfrika. This is advantageous in that we can plough back the capital we have used in the production of the film. It is pointless for us to put so much time and effort into these films and not be rewarded for our efforts. Due to a number of reasons, trends have shown that releasing films onto TV, cinema and other easily accessible viewing and streaming services makes them vulnerable to piracy, so it is high time we come up with ways to fight these setbacks,” said Matope.

Vicious Circle becomes the second successive Mutare feature film to get a commercial  digital release following the release of the Ngozi (directed by Martin Makhaya) on the app. Ngozi was later sold on portable memory cards for US$2.

This development is following the trends of digital streaming services like Netflix, Spotify and Hulu to mention a few that have already found ways of reducing piracy by protecting their content using technologies called ‘DRM’ and ‘watermarking’.

To watch movies on Hulu, one has to pay US$5.99 per month whilst Netflix, on the other hand charges between US$8.99 per month, and its most popular plan is US$12.99 per month. All movies on these platforms cannot be accessed anywhere else unless you subscribe to the platforms.

Vicious Circle is a visual adaptation of a novel of the same name which was written by Stephen Mutsago, a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officer. The novel was given special mention at the 2017 National Arts Merit Awards (NAMAs) in the Literary Arts awards category for the Outstanding First Creative Published Works. Mutsago and Matope however collaborated in writing the screenplay for the movie.

Vicious Circle

The film was shot as a collaboration between Pikicha Africa, Eastlife Entertainment, Vuvuzela Visual Studios and ZRP. Matope said that the whole film took about one year and seven months to produce.

“Shooting was four weeks and post production work took us five months. The whole project took 19 months. This includes writing and getting clearance for all the scenes we used in the film,” said Matope.

Matope described the film as an action smash hit that brings to life the daring operations and experiences of the Zimbabwe police. The storyline reveals the life behind the everyday experiences of police officers in Mutare as they follow a trail of well organized criminal activities by a gang responsible for serial murders, bank robberies and cybercrimes.

The movie is about a dedicated police officer, detective HOD, played by Mutsago, who bravely investigates complicated and deep rooted corruption crimes. However, the more he attempts to do so the more complex they become, and unfortunately this ends up involving his family as the plot thickens. Eventually detective HOD apprehends the well- organized criminal racket, DETROIT, which is a network of armed robbers, murderers, ritualists, kidnappers and drug peddlers. The cunning and calculative cartel goes through lengths to make detective HOD’s life miserable, including the use of black magic, but in the end detective HOD emerges victorious and brings the culprits to book.

Pastor Tinashe Murigo who plays the character of Samuel, the shoddy husband of a kidnapped lady said he had a wonderful experience acting in the movie.

“We had a wonderful experience because we were working closely with the Zimbabwe Republic Police. I have been in dramas such as ‘Goodman’ and ‘Ngozi’. This was my first time featuring in an action film. It was a bit challenging as we had to do a lot of stunts to perfection so that they become true to life for the audience,” said Murigo.

The clerical actor also implored the local corporate industry to come on board and support local filmmakers as there has been an influx of film production content of late, indicating that the passion and talent is there in Zimbabwe to produce international blockbusters.

“There is need for the corporate world to partner with film producers. The government also needs to chip in. At the moment the local film industry is driven by passion as actors and producers barely make enough from the trade to make ends meet. If possible there is need for a budget allocated towards capital projects for the film industry,” said Murigo.

Igi Matope

The fast rising film producer Matope, the founder of Pikicha Africa said he is not going back and leaving no stone unturned to put Zimbabwe’s movie industry in the limelight. In 2019, his movie ‘Goodman’ was screened at the Montgomery International Film Festival (MIFF) in Maryland in the United States and at the Florenzo Serra Film Festival in Sassari, Italy. That same year the movie also excelled at the 12th International Moving Film Festival in Iran in the Middle East after it was selected as one of the semifinalist among 3046 submissions from 120 countries.

In previous productions he won best short film at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival in 2015 for another Mutare produced short film called ‘Fatima’, he won Best Film at the Chinhoyi Film Fest in 2017 for a short film called ‘Baba the Joys of Fatherhood’. The film ‘Baba the Joys of Fatherhood’ was again that year again screened at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival  in California, USA and it was also nominated for a National Arts Merit Award (NAMA).

“It really motivated me as a Zimbabwean film maker to be appreciated across the world. These were international platforms where filmmakers are independently judged according to their works. We hope for more support from our government and the local corporate world to invest in the local film industry as we have the potential to reach Nollywood, Zollywood and South Africa movie industry levels, or even surpass them,” said Matope.


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