Actors, directors, producers and crew turned out this week for the premiere of Zambia’s first musical feature, Damyna The Musical, at Sterkinekor in Lusaka’s Manda Hill Mall.
French Ambassador to Zambia H.E. M. Sylvain Berger was also on hand to present the film’s leading lady, Josephine Kachiza, with the Dikalo award for best actress bestowed at the Festival International du Film PanAfricain held in Cannes, France, last year.
“We should be proud that a Zambian film won this prestigious award. I am proud that Josephine Kachiza got the prize for the best actress. I would like to congratulate Peter Langmead and his crew for successfully making this movie, Damyna the Musical,” said M. Berger.
“France is always happy to keep showing support for Zambia to produce films. We have this commitment to arts and culture. We hope we can help Zambia’s culture to be promoted abroad. When we see such nice projects such as this Damyna the Musical, I think it is worth it, and that Zambia has huge potential in the field of culture that will attract tourism and recognition of the talents the country has.”
Ms Kachiza (25) from Chelstone, Lusaka, is a civilian musician with the Zambian Army ad was congratulated on her award by representatives from the Zambian Army also attended the premiere.
The first African musical film to be produced in Zambia debuted at the festival in the iconic French film hub last year, having been selected from more than 50 films from over 30 countries as the film to be screened at the week-long event’s gala dinner on Saturday evening during the 14th Edition of the festival, which pays tribute to African-American Independent Cinema.
“The quality of the films winning the Dikalo Awards reflects the excellent work done by the different professionals who have made up the jury and has helped to make our festival a point of reference within its domain. All the films which have gained awards at the festival have gone to have international recognition,” said the festival organisers.
Ms Kachiza, remained humble at the award of the Dikalo and explained that the film was a team effort.
“I’m a down-to-earth personality. I love and fear God. I love what I do and I am so determined to achieve positive and best results. I treasure relationships built on interests and good morals,” she said
“The movie would not have been possible without the dedication of the whole cast and crew, led by Dr Langmead, and Musical Director Joseph Muyunda. I would also like to especially thank co-star Mubita Ling’ope, who played Por Phiri.
Damyna The Musical director and screenwriter Peter Langmead was delighted with Ms Kachiza’s award. “Josephine is a very talented actress, singer and performer. She lights up the screen when in front of a camera and has a natural talent combined with a professional approach to her work that makes it a privilege to work with her,” he said.
The romantic drama, Damyna the Musical, weaves a story of family secrets and a witch doctor’s spells that conspire to confuse the life of an orphaned girl whose quest for love brings her traditional African village into conflict with the sophisticated world of international development agencies.
The film was shot on location in Zambia with local cast and crew directed by long-term local resident Peter Langmead and supported by renowned BBC lighting cameraman Denis Borrow (Superman, The Queen at 80, Richard Attenborough: A Life in Film, Piers Morgan On…, William & Kate: A Royal Engagement) as Director of Photography, with Music Director Joseph Muyunda and Editor Kalenga Mwansa.
“Damyna the Musical captures the essence of African society, both rural and urban, and we believe that this film will also capture the hearts of the African diaspora worldwide,” said Dr Langmead. “It resonates with Africans abroad at many levels and also connects Africans across borders within the continent, as well as breaking down barriers to present a real view of Africa to the West without the stereotypes and misconceptions that are all too often portrayed in the media.”
The lead role of Damyna is played by Josephine Kachiza with Mubita Ling’ope as Por Phiri and Tom Chiponge as the witch doctor.“Producing a musical that reflects the contrasts of African rural and urban life was a challenge that the whole cast took to their hearts,” said Dr Langmead. “The production harnessed that energy to create a vibrant, light-hearted movie with a powerful subtext that explores the changes facing African societies as they grapple with the dualities of global influence.”
The story is based on the operatic stage work written by Dr Langmead and premiered at the Lusaka Playhouse in 2014.
Damyna the Musical combines the tale of a rural romance with the subtext of his observation and exploration of African culture, bringing together 40 years of experience of working with rural communities across the continent, viewed with the perspective of an outsider who is equally at home in the worlds of international finance and fine art as in the countryside. In doing so, he communicates the vibrancy of life, chronicles the aspirations of ordinary people and portrays a long overdue positive image of African life.
Where women have no choice or voice, Damyna the Musical reflects on philandering men who neglect and deny their children, resulting in unschooled orphans and second class citizens, often without identity. Secondary themes are belief in witch doctors, mixed race relationships, human ‘ownership’, adoption issues and responsibilities, and ill-advised donor activity. The film explores the inherent dualities of wealth and poverty, rural and urban spaces, multiculturalism and the educated and uneducated, along with concepts of racism, feminism, inequality, sexism and colonialism.
Having completed ‘Damyna the Musical’, Peter Langmead is working on the script of his second film Borderline (working title), which is also expected to be a musical, produced in Zambia, for release in early 2018.