A clash of cultures. Asimple Malawian family is caught be¬tween the middle of African traditional culture and modernisation. Aonce successful fisherman struggles economically due to depletion of fish in the lake while his young beautiful third wife is torn between loyalty to him and endless sexual overtures by a white tourist who is ready to pay her anything in order to sleep with her. And, as if this is not enough misfortune, the fish¬erman's son turns to homosexuality.
Such is part of the action in The Last Fishing Boat, a 105-minute movie recently released by FirstDawn Arts, a company owned by award-winning Malawian film maker, Shemu Joyah.
After his fairly thriving exploits with his previous movie, Seasons of a Life, which is a tale of hope and resil¬ience, Joyah is now back with a piece that does not only explore cultural val¬ues but also promotes Malawi's fasci¬nating beauty as some scenes were shot along the shores of Lake Malawi.
In fact, Joyah says that he deliber¬ately fused into the movie the tourism element to share with the world the vi-sual beauty of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.
"When I was in Cairo with Seasons of a Life in 2008, an Egyptian journalist said that he had heard about the beau¬ty of Malawi's landscape and had ex¬pected to see it in the film. But he was disappointed because the film was shot mainly indoors. I promised him that I would try to shoot my next film along Lake Malawi, which is one of the most beautiful places you can think of," ex¬plains Joyah.
And no news can be sweeter than that the new movie has already been selected for screening in a competition at the Kenya International Film Festi¬val which, Joyah says, will take place from 23 October to 3 November, 2012 in Nairobi and the Verona African Film Festival from 16 November to 25 No¬vember, 2012 in Verona, Italy. The two festivals will, surely, offer the artist a platform to share the enchanting beauty of Malawi with the international audi¬ence.
Actually, Seasons of a Life, was also screened at the very same fes¬tivals and won the Special Schools Prize in Verona in 2009.
But, how singular is The Last Fishing Boat compared to Seasons of a Life in terms of production and other notable elements of a movie?
"They are very different in that The Last Fishing Boat is a much more complex story involving very complex sets. Moreover the cast is much bigger and in several scenes we were dealing with over a hun¬dred extras. Therefore, it was more demanding financially and logisti¬cally," says, Joyah, disclosing that on the financial side, FirstDawn Arts was assisted by the Royal Nor¬wegian Embassy and the Göteborg International Film Festival in Swe¬den.
He assertively declares he has high expectations of his latest mov¬ie, bragging that it will register a huge mark on the movie scene both at local and international level.
"I am hopeful that it will be seen as an improvement on Seasons of a Life. As to whether it will be able to get as many awards is something I cannot guess and I consider the awards as a bonus. But, the fact that The Kenya International Film Festival and the Verona African Film festival have al¬ready selected the movie for screening is very encouraging," he explains.
There was massive hype during the launch of Seasons of a Life. But apart from granting Joyah massive ex¬posure, it is difficult to tell whether the artist made or continues to make substantial financial gains from the movie especially that very little is talked about it now.
However, Joyah says that, as an artsist, he is not motivated by mon¬etary gains but by the pleasure of cre¬ating a piece of art, pointing out that in film there is nothing more exciting than seeing the people you had created on a piece of paper walk and talk in front of you.
"Seasons of a Life was hyped but it was really not a business venture but a celebration of FirstDawn Arts' en¬try into the film industry. Therefore, the monetary issue was secondary. The movie is still on the market. We are aware that many people have not yet seen it so during the launch of The Last Fishing Boat we will be selling it at promotional rates so that people can have a chance to buy and watch it," Joyah explains.
In Africa, it is, arguably, Nigeria that leads when it comes to produc¬ing movies in terms of quantity while South Africa leads in quality. Sadly, Malawi is still not yet there on the two fronts, a scenario Joyah partly attri¬butes to lack of well-trained technical people and proper distribution system to make a movie reach the markets.
"But, like a mother who has been expecting a child for nine months, I am excited about my new film, The Last Fishing Boat, which is, surely, of fine quality. Fans should expect humour, tension and suspense in this movie," thus Joyah signs off.