In 2002, Tanzania earned its first true introduction into the global film market with the picture Maangamizi: The Ancient One. It was submitted to the Oscars for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It also made its debut at the Pan African Film Festival, and subsequently showed at more than 55 Film Festivals around the globe. It marked history as the first Tanzanian film that had ever been submitted to the Oscars. Now, two decades later, Tanzania receives the honor of being shortlisted for its second film submission to the Oscars.
The film, Vuta N’kuvute, translated to “Tug of War” from Swahili, was entered into The Academy’s Best International Film category. The script revolves around the days preceding the end of Britain’s colonial rule, layered with conflict surrounding political unrest. Amidst this setting, there’s a love story which unfolds in the film. Leaning heavily on a largely Black cast, the picture was filmed in Swahili. In 2021, Vuta N’kuvute became the first Tanzanian film to be featured at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). With the accolades this picture has accrued, this is a significant focal point for Tanzania’s film industry.
Amil Shivji, the director, published a post on Instagram to share the pivotal moment. He included the following caption:
“It is an honour and privilege to be selected as Tanzania’s official submission to the 95th Academy awards. Two decades have passed since Tanzania has been recognized by the world’s most prestigious platform for cinema. Although these are baby steps, the future for Tanzanian cinema is finally in our hands. A wave of Swahili filmmakers grows with pride, intellect and audacity every day. Vuta N’Kuvute is living proof that tukiamua, tunaweza. Hakuna njia rahisi, lazima utapambana, tena utapambana sana, visa na mikasa hayaishi. Tasnia yetu ngumu sana ila mwisho wa siku hatutengenezi tu muvi bali tunaanda mustakabali wetu.
Sincere love and gratitude to the author of the novel Mzee Adam Shafi, the publishers @mkukinanyota , my fellow producer @stevenmarkovitz and the team at @bigworldcinema and co-producer @tamsinranger . Nitakuwa mchoyo wa fadhila bila kuwashukuru @RosaLuxemburgstiftung who have never wavered in their support for my work especially for this film as well as @worldcinemafund @dohafilm @visionssudest for supporting my vision and a hearty thank you to our investors, family and friends. The cast and crew brought a formidable strength and belief to the film that I really couldn’t ask any more of.
Now, my friends, we are in the books of history. #vnv2021”
View this post on Instagram