Tanzania Get First Oscars Awards Entry In 20 Years

Oscars Award
Amil Shivji during the shooting of VNV (Photo credit: @amilshivji/Instagram)
Amil Shivji during the shooting of VNV (Photo credit: @amilshivji/Instagram)

In what will be considered a historic event, a Tanzanian movie has been shortlisted for the 95th Oscars Awards. The movie titled Vuta N’kuvute (Swahili word for ‘Tug of War’) was shortlisted in the Best International Film category.

Before being shortlisted for the Oscars Awards, Vuta N’kuvute was already a pacesetter in Tanzania movie industry. In September 2021, it became the first feature movie from that country to ever screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

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The first time that a Tanzanian movie made an entry into the Oscars Awards was in 2002 with the movie ‘Maangazi: The Ancient One’. Tanzania’s Swahili Bongo movies are popular in East Africa. However, they have struggled with penetrating other regions of the continent.

Instagram post of Amil Shivji, one of the producers of Tanzanian movie shortlisted for the Oscars Award (Photo credit @amilshivji Instagram)
Instagram post of Amil Shivji, one of the producers of the Tanzanian movie shortlisted for the Oscars Awards (Photo credit: @amilshivji/Instagram)

Amil Shivji, one of the producers and director of the movie Vuta N’kuvute could not hide his joy. In an Instagram post, Shivji thanked all the cast and also highlighted how this opens a world of opportunities for filmmakers in the country.

“It is an honor 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.”

What we know about Vuta N’kuvute, the Oscars Awards shortlist from Tanzania

Vuta N’kuvute won doha film post production grant (Photo credit: @amilshivji/Instagram)
Vuta N’kuvute won the Doha film post-production grant (Photo credit: @amilshivji/Instagram)

The first thing that we discovered was that Vuta N’kuvute may not have been a success without financial support from the Doha film. It was one of the movies that won the Doha film post-production grant. Shivji shared this news with his Instagram follower on 20 June 2020.

In November 2020, Shivji yet again announced on his Instagram page that the movie was one of the winners of the Visions Sud Est post-production fund. In September of 2021, it premiered at both TIFF, Canada and FESPACO, Burkina Faso where it won the People’s Choice Award in Zanzibar.

Backed by so many production grants, it is not surprising that Vuta N’kuvute is the rave of the moment. Whenever African filmmakers get the chance, They always emphasize how the lack of funds is limiting the growth of the African movie industry.

A sneak peek into Vuta N’kuvute

Vuta N’kuvute was set during the British Imperial rule. It follows the story of a young freedom fighter, Denge whose fate crossed with an Indian-Zanzibari girl called Yasmin. The meeting coincided with when Yasmin was to be married off.

ALSO READ: Pan African Film And Arts Festival Extends its Film Submission Deadline

That midnight encounter set off passion and revolution that provides the stake on which the rest of the movie weaves. Vuta N’kuvute features a lot of first-timers in the Tanzania movie scene. It is unpredictable what we can do for love.

About Amil Shivji

Amil Shivji was born in Tanzania. He doubles as a lecturer t the University of Dar es Salaam and a filmmaker. His movies challenge powers that be and tear down the urban development facades by emphasizing the struggle and strength of marginalized communities.

He has written, produced, and directed feature movies and short films. T-Junction in 2017 was his first ever feature movie directorial debut. The movie opened the Zanzibar International Film Festival that year and went on to scoop three awards.

Vuta N’kuvute is his second feature movie. The movie won the Mashariki African Film Festival in  Rwanda and won the Oumarou Ganda Prize at FESPACO 2021. Its biggest honor so far is earning a spot at 95th Oscars Awards shortlist.

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