“Film is one of the arts disciplines that women use as a way of communicating their artistic expressions and also as a tool for change.” (1)
Joyce Jenje Makwenda’s assertion above introduces her presentation on the history of women in film and television in Zimbabwe. In the article, "History of Women in film and TV in Zim" she gives a survey of Zimbabwean women in media, highlighting its significance before and after independence in 1980.
Chido Matewa’s doctoral thesis (2002) on the Africa Women Filmmakers Trust (AWFT) offers further research on the important role that media women have played in the use of communication technologies as a tool for empowerment. She highlights the pioneering work of Mavis Moyo of the Federation of Africa Media Women-Zimbabwe Chapter, who was among the Zimbabwean women who attended the World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985, with a draft of the FAMWZ constitution. The organisation endeavoured for the development of media women in the urban and rural areas of Zimbabwe and has a primary goal to advance the cause of women media practitioners and to empower women through the media. Currently known as Gender and Media Connect (GMC), the name changed in 2015 in order to reflect the organisation’s belief that achieving gender justice requires the combined efforts of both men and women in the media. The Africa Women Filmmakers Trust, created in 1992 by founding members Tendai Munawa, Rebecca Kapenzi and Chido Matewa, works to advance gender equality and justice through the use of information and communication technologies by facilitating content production and dissemination that supports girls, women and disadvantaged communities to take informed choices.
Other initiatives quickly followed, such as Nyerai Films, founded by Tsitsi Dangarembga in 1992. The Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ) created in 1996 and first chaired by the late Petronilla Munongoro, has as its mission, to strengthen the gender perspective in Zimbabwean society by narrating women’s stories and experiences, whether told by women or men, or any other gender, powerfully through the medium of film. In 1997, the Zimbabwe International Film Festival was formed. The International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) was launched in 2002, and in 2007 established the Distinguished Woman of African Cinema Award, which is presented to a woman of African descent anywhere in the world who has made and continues to make a significant contribution to the African film industry within any of its areas. The Wild Track Newsletter, created in 2010 is an influential online publication featuring the myriad initiatives and activities of Zimbabwean women in visual media, art and beyond. Also in 2010, Priscilla Sithole introduced the Ibhayisikopo Film Project, an academy for women filmmakers aiming to increase the number of female audio-visual producers in Bulawayo. The Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA) formed in 2011 by Tsitsi Dangarembga, features an important online portal. In 2016, the African Women Filmmakers Hub was launched by ICAPA and the following year the African Women Filmmakers Hub Scriptwriting Residency.
The history of Zimbabwean women in cinema, visual media and screen culture, is the story of the extraordinary resourcefulness of women producers, directors, organisers, journalists, writers, storytellers, and all the others who work to empower each other, locally, nationally and beyond.
A list of Zimbabwe women in cinema, visual media and screen culture, which is not exhaustive, includes: Jackie Cahi, Francisca Sibanda Chamunokara, Dorothy Chidzawo, Tapiwa Chipfupa, Lydia Sue-Ellen Chitunya, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Angeline Domingo, Agnes Gwatiringa, Annie Holmes, Rebecca Kapenzi, Marian Kunonga
Bella Matambanadzo, Tawanda Gunda Munpengo, Dorcas Hove, Kubi Chaza Indi, Joyce Jenje-Makwenda, Tsitsi Ella Jaji, Yvonne Jila, Rumbi Katedza, Marian Kunonga, Susan Makore, Maryann Mandishona, Nakai Matema, Chido Matewa, Dorothy Meck, Karen Mukwasi, Tendai Munawa, Linda Mvusi, Yeukai Ndarimani, Miriam Patzanza, Emma Shamuyarira, the late Jennifer Makunike Sibanda, British-born Ingrid Sinclair, Priscilla Sithole Ncube, Patience Tawengwa, Beauty Naikai Tsuro, Prudence Uriri. (2)
Articles on Zimbabwean Women in Cinema Visual Media and Screen Culture from African Women in Cinema Blog
Women Movement Building: Film Dialogue Series - Zimbabwe - 24 Feb 2016
IIFF presents a short film of moments at the International Images Film Festival for Women 2015 (Zimbabwe) - 21 Oct 2015
International Images International Film Festival for Women (IIFF) 2014 report by Oshosheni Hiveluah - 27 Sep 2014
The Distinguished Woman of African Cinema Award presented by Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe (WFOZ) - 30 Aug 2014
Aljazeera - Witness - The Bag on my Back, a documentary film by Tapiwa Chipfupa (Zimbabwe) - 30 Aug 2013
Labouring Women by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa) - 26 Aug 2013
FESPACO 2013 - Rumbi Katedza: The Team | l'Équipe - 14 Feb 2013
A Conversation with Rumbi Katedza - 17 Feb 2012
Towards a Critical Debate: Nyaminyami Amaji Abulozi (Nyaminyami and the Evil Eggs), a film by Tsitsi Dangarembga - 03 Dec 2011
Tsitsi Dangarembga Reflects on the First Decade of the International Images Film Festival for Women - 01 Dec 2011
Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe Community Outreach - 05 Nov 2011
Yvonne Jila takes the torch as director of International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) - 04 Nov 2011
Tsitsi Dangarembga: Filmmaker, Writer, Cultural Activist - 28 Jul 2011
Tsitsi Dangarembga: I Want a Wedding Dress - 23 Feb 2011
International Images Film Festival for Women presented by Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe - 15 Nov 2010
(1) Joyce Jenje-Makwenda. History of Women in film and TV in Zimbabwe.
(2) Several of the women from the list are drawn from the Joyce Jenje-Makwenda Collection Archives.
REPORT BY BETI ELLERSON