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'Cook Off' Becomes First Independent Zimbabwean Film to be Acquired by Netflix

'Cook Off' Becomes First Independent Zimbabwean Film to be Acquired by Netflix

Starring Zimbabwean talents Tendaiishe Chitima, Tendai Nguni and Jesesi Mungoshi, 'Cook Off' is the food-centric rom-com set to premiere on Netflix this year.

Netflix promises continues to bring the African heat. Most recently, , the streaming giant acquired the independent Zimbabwean film Cook Off. The food-centric rom-com was written and directed by Tomas Lutuli Brickhill and stars Zimbabwean talents including Tendaiishe Chitima, Tendai Nguni and Jesesi Mungoshi, among several others. The film becomes the first ever export from Zimbabwe's film and television industry to land on Netflix.


Cook Off tells the story of Anesu, a struggling single mother from a Harare township with a flair for cooking. However, after she qualifies for Zimbabwe's top reality cooking show, she finds herself not only battling against professional chefs but her own self-doubt.

Since its international premiere at the prestigious Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR) back in 2018, Cook Off has screened at over fifteen film festivals worldwide and gone on to win several awards. Shot with an incredibly limited budget just after former president Robert Mugabe was ousted in the infamous "coup-not-coup", Cook Off is a testament to how the arts continue to transcend even the most trying of circumstances.

Speaking about having been cast in the lead role, Chitima (who plays Anesu) says, "When I first read Cook-off I thought to myself 'wow, what a unique story, what an intriguing story'." Chitima goes on to add that, "We haven't had a lot of Zimbabwean stories told in that way. The writing was brilliant, it was funny, there was a bit of drama, there was tension. The writing really encapsulated all kinds of themes and different genres altogether. I was really excited about the script and actually that's what really drew me to the role."

Brickhill and producer Joe Njagu have both expressed their excitement at the recent deal and emphasised how it will go a long way in shining a light on the largely untapped talent in Zimbabwe's film industry.

Watch the trailer for Cook Off below:

Cook Off OFFICIAL TRAILER (2020) HD youtu.be

Film
Photo: Sundance Film Festival

South African Director Oliver Hermanus on Remaking a Classic

The award-winning director behind Skoonheid and Moffie tackles his first film set outside his home country -- a reworking of auteur Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru -- which is premiering at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

In Living, Oliver Hermanus’ latest film, Bill Nighy takes on the role Takashi Shimura earned a BAFTA nomination for playing in the 1952 classic, Ikiru. Except Nighy's not Mr Watanabe, he’s Mr Williams, a British version of Shimura’s workaholic who finds out he only has a short time left to live. Revered auteur Akira Kurosawa’s film made its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1954, where it would go on to win him a special prize of the senate of Berlin, before garnering acclaim for many more years to come. So, too, is Hermanus' remaking of the story bowing at a film festival, and so far, it's also been earning the South African director high praise.

Born in Cape Town, Hermanus has steadily built his career on South African-centric stories. Whether it’s the portrait of a Mitchell’s Plain mother caught between poverty and violence in Shirley Adams or the experience of gay recruits conscripted into the army in Moffie, Hermanus’ films speak to various realms of South African life. Living is his first venture outside of South Africa – not just in storyline, but in cast and crew too. The screenplay is by Nobel and Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of The Day) and Hermanus was brought on as director by the producers.

From debuting his first film Shirley Adams in 2009 in competition at the 62nd Locarno Film Festival, followed by Skoonheid (Beauty) at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, and The Endless River at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, where it was the first South African film to be invited to the main competition, to his fourth feature, Moffie at the 76th Venice Film Festival in 2019, Hermanus has cemented his reputation as a filmmaker to watch.

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