By Ogova Ondego
Published October 7, 2013
After a decade of service in the performing arts sector of Malawi as a writer, actor, dancer, director and trainer that saw her win an Arts Development Recognition Award in 2012, Joyce Mhango-Chavula has just made her own film that is now into post-production.
The Malawian who featured in two Nollywood movies–REFLECTIONS, a story about a girl whose husband gets murdered on their first night of their honeymoon; and KAMARA TREE, a story of a family beset by deceit, secrets, love and hatred– directed by Nigerian Desmond Elliot and shot in Freetown in Sierra Leone, says her filmâ€”NO MORE TEARSâ€”â€œ is a true life story about a 20-year-old girl who loses her mother to AIDS forcing her to quit her job in order to take care of her ailing father. When the father dies his brothers help themselves to his property leaving her destitute.â€ To them, a woman has no claim to her fatherâ€™s property.
The film juxtaposes the lives of two best friendsâ€”Gina and Chigoâ€”against each other. While one is in what could be described as a fairy tale marriage, the other one is in a nightmare whose end can only come when she says â€˜No More Tears!â€™
â€œThis film tackles issues like love, stigma from HIV/AIDS, domestic abuse, inheritance and dispossession,â€ Mhango-Chavula says of NO MORE TEARS that she wrote, directed and co-produced.
Shot in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe and its environs and along the beach of Lake Malawi in Salima district, NO MORE TEARS is set for release in February or March 2014.
â€œIn making this film, I felt that it was time for me to practise what I have learnt from directors like Desmond Elliot of Nollywood and Charles Shemu Joyah of Malawi after I worked on their productions in 2012,â€ Mhango Chavula tells ArtMatters.Info of the film that is co-produced by Brenda Mselu, an up-and-coming actress who plays the lead female role in it. The lead male role is played by gospel artist Anthony Dumba.
â€œMost members of the cast are virtually unknown in the film sector,â€ Mhango-Chavula says. â€œI involved them as one way of building capacity in our fledgling film sector.â€
Apart from writer/director/producer Mhango-Chavula, other members of crew of the miucro-budget production (just US$3,500!) included Christopher Chiunguzeni on Camera, Chrispin Chiunguzeni on Sound, Mutisunge Phiri on Lighting and Susan Banda as Casting manager. The film was executive-produced by Mhango-Chavulaâ€™s Rising Choreos & Theatre Company.
Saying the primary distribution mode of NO MORE TEARS is the DVD, Mhango-Chavula says â€œI had such an amazing team that was willing to learn and we worked like the team that we are for 10 consecutive days.â€
She says she has a cordial working relationship with Malawiâ€™s award-winning filmmaker Joyah whose films SEASONS OF A LIFE and THE LAST FISHING BOAT have collected awards and accolades around the world.
â€œShemu Joyah is my Malawian mentor. I respect him so much because he takes me as a co-worker and not just some actor. We have a good working relationship and it is always an honour when people associate me with him,â€ she says.
So how did it all start?
After eight years of scripting and acting on stage, Mhango-Chavula says, she founded Rising Choreos & Theatre Company in 2009.
“I developed a passion for film acting from 2010 when I acted on stage with Desmond Elliot. My stint with Nollwood continued when I acted alongside Nollywood star Patience Ozokwor and then Van Vicker of Ghana.”