By Will Barber Taylor
Zimbabwe, 2001: A time of fear, anger, uncertainty.
On the eve of a government order to vacate his home, farmer Daniel Silva must decide between fleeing the country or standing his ground. William Zimunya, his farmhand, is torn between loyalty to his lifelong friend and fear of the powerful Wilson Matonga, the man who leads the charge to take the farm.
The Zim is one of the most powerful short films made in recent years. Set during a time of great upheaval and unrest in Zimbabwe, it tells the story of three men caught between the pain of the past and the retribution of the present – trying to make lives for themselves in a country that is divided between its past and its present.
The cast is led by Alexander Bedria who alongside directing plays the part of Daniel Silva. The part of Silva is one of contradictions; he is attempting to live in a land that is coming to grips with the actions of his ancestors and a country that does not know how to cope with him. Bedria gives an intensely complex performance – on one level he is a man simply defending the rights of him and his family to farm on his family’s land. On another, he is attempting to accept the sins of the past and try and reconcile himself to the changing dynamic of his homeland. Bedria’s performance is realistic, earthy and thoughtful – he is able to convince the audience of the plight of his character and of his good intentions.
Tongayi Chirisa is excellent as Wilson Zimunya, Silva’s farmhand and friend. Chirisa brings honesty and dignity to his performance as Zimunya. His scenes with Bedria are exceptionally good and the chemistry between Bedria and Chirisa is the backbone of the film. Without the heartfelt bond between Bedria and Chirisa as their respective characters, the film would not be as fascinating, thrilling and unique as it is.
The Zim is a thought provoking film that delivers a complex message – that history can often be the source of so much prejudice and pain and that it is difficult to address. Its beauty is in its complexity – it is a film that changes an audience’s perception of life in Zimbabwe and the intricate problems that face its people.
My interview with the film’s director can be found here.