ZIMBABWEAN filmmaker Beauty Masvaure Alt is relishing her newfound fame after recording successes with Shaina, a film which takes a bold stand against gender-based violence.
The award-winning Shaina has since joined a library of world-class filmmaking in Africa, reaching far and wide on Netflix.
Directed by Beauty Masvaure Alt and written by Wanisai Chigwendere, Shaina was produced by Quizzical Pictures, one of the continent’s leading production houses, alongside Impact (Ed) International.
Shaina brings together a unique collection of fresh on-screen talent such as Wilmah Munemera, Tinodiwanashe Chitima, Gamu Mukwakwami, Tarumbidzwa Chirume, Tadiwanashe Marowa and Fadzai Simango.
They are joined by a well-established line-up of the likes of Jesesi Mungoshi, Leroy Gopal, Eddy Sandifolo, Marian Kunonga and Charmaine Mujeri. In Shaina’s storyline, a teenager struggles in the face of tragedy and social inequities.
Even as adults fail them, this group of friends must work together to survive and help Shaina find a way forward.
According to Aric Noboa, executive producer with Impact (Ed) International, the producers of the film took a bold stand against gender-based violence by shining a light on young people, taking on traditional power structures.
“It was an exciting, challenging and rewarding experience to tackle my first feature, telling a story deeply rooted in my home country,” said Masvaure.
“I really wanted to highlight the point of view of these young characters, to show the strength and ingenuity needed for these girls and boys to reach for their dreams against overwhelming odds. This is the story of young people in today’s Africa and I wanted the story-telling and visual style to portray that. Every frame, every line had to be authentic to a young audience. I hope my vision for this film will leave a lasting impression.”
Shaina was officially selected at 15 festivals around the world, from Durban to Zanzibar to Seattle.
At the African Movie Academy Awards in Lagos, Nigeria, Wilmah Munemera (who plays Shine) won the Best Young Actor Award and Alt was nominated for Best First Feature Film Director.
Alt was again nominated for Best First Feature Film Director at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles.
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 last year.
About the film now screening on Netflix, Alt said she was happy that the cast and crew were getting the recognition they deserve.
For those not in the know, Alt has worked on several Zimbabwean film productions during her formative years beginning with Flame.
Everyone’s Child, Yellowcard, Studio 263, among others.
“I also worked with Daves Guzha at Theatre in the Park and my late Uncle Walter Muparutsa who had a lot of influence in my career. At some point I was involved in production for a radio serial drama called Mopani Junction,” she said.
“I worked fulltime at Framework International (a film production company). Media For Development Trust was like home for me. So, all in all I’ve been involved in film, documentaries, theatre and radio. I’ve also worked on a lot of international productions as well as on a lot of South African productions as a script supervisor (continuity) before moving into directing.” Since she relocated to South Africa, Alt has worked as one of the directors on a South African series called Bedford Wives, also on Netflix.
“I worked on MTV Shuga, Love, Sex, Money (with Lupita Nyong’o), which is still on Netflix. I also worked on Queen Sono, Happiness Ever After, Siri (a Kenyan series) and others also as A Script Supervisor,” she explained.
She however still reminisces on the good old days when the Zimbabwean film sector was still vibrant.
“I would say it started dying down in the 2000s. It seems there are a lot of young and upcoming filmmakers trying their best and working hard to tell their stories and share them globally. I believe we will be seeing more and more Zimbabwean productions in the near future,” she said.
Her most recent work was titled A Royal Christmas Surprise which screened on DStv’s catchup and DStv stream.