Netflix ready for a Zimbabwean Cook Off

By Trevor Makonyonga

“One day we will take the commissioning of local content on Netflix for granted. Whilst that day is not far off, today, right now, we celebrate the achievement of such a milestone. Congrats @joenjagu.”

This is the congratulatory message of Information ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Nick Mangwana to local filmmaker, Joe Njagu whose production will soon be on Netflix.

The tweet celebrates an achievement by Zimbabwean filmmakers although the government rarely supports the creative industry. But, well, that’s a story for another day.

Netflix will soon be showing the Zimbabwean movie, Cook Off, which was written and directed by Tomas Brickhill and produced by Joe Njagu.

Bustop TV talked to these two regarding these feat they have achieved.

Speaking on what it means to have the movie on Netflix, writer and director of the movie, Tomas Brickhill said that the development solidified the fact that Zimbabwe has adequate talent to match the world.

Brickhill said, “In spite of the fact that Zimbabwe’s remains quite underdeveloped, we believed that we have the talent to produce good quality cinema that will resonate beyond the country’s borders. This development is recognition of that, and we are delighted.”

Having the romantic comedy, Cook Off on Netflix validates the hard work that has been put over the years by the film industry.

“As cameras and other equipment have become more accessible, it’s great to see that anyone can pursue a passion for filmmaking. But there are no shortcuts – we’re grateful to have had the chance to put in the years developing our own skills, and we’re happy to see it paying off now,” said producer, Joe Njagu.

Njagu expressed optimism saying that Cook Off was meant to be the “first of many” local film productions to reach the international scene.

Njagu said, “It’s always been our goal for this film to the first of many. We hope to see many more films coming out of Zimbabwe in the years ahead – it’s so important that we tell our own stories.”

Main actor in the movie, rapper Tendai Ryan ‘Tehn Diamond’ Nguni took to Twitter to show how elated he was and to make the announcement that Cook Off was going to be on Netflix.

Tehn tweeted, “17:33, I can’t believe what I’m about to type, but here goes nothing. Remember that movie we’ve been telling u to look out for ? Well, it’ll be showing on @netflix in a few weeks. @CookOffZim is about to be the first Zim film ever to do so. #CookOffZim. Thank you God.”

Cook Off is a multi-award-winning feature film from Zimbabwe.
The movie follows the journey of Anesu, a down-on-her-luck single mother from Harare’s Budiriro township who becomes a national sensation after she qualifies for Zimbabwe’s top reality TV cooking show, but then finds herself out of her depth battling against professional chefs.

“Featuring rising star Tendaiishe ‘Tendie’ Chitima as Anesu, popular hiphop artist Tehn Diamond as the handsome fellow chef Prince and much-beloved ‘Neria’ star Jesesi Mungoshi as the grandmother, Cook Off is 100% ‘Made in Zimbabwe’. This heartwarming rom-com has screened at nearly 20 festivals worldwide, won Best Film and Best Actress at the 2019 NAMAs and ZIFF in 2018, and will shortly be available on general release.

“Cook Off features a host of celebrated Zimbabwean actors – including from Studio 263, Wenera, Bustop TV and Zambezi News – as well as cameos from presenters Zihlo and DJ Karen Paida, and musicians Sylent Nqo and Shingai Shoniwa from the Noisettes. With its all-star soundtrack, Cook Off is an incredible showcase of Zimbabwean talent.”

I As Netflix has taken in a Zimbabwe movie, it remains a mystery on whether government will open up the airwaves or if support will be increased for the creative industry. Since Nick Mangwana endorsed the product on Twitter maybe, just maybe, an era is coming where the government will not only hijack fame but be totally involved in all processes.