Award-winning local movie Cook Off continues on its upward trajectory as the blockbuster looks to explore the UK market with the UK premiere set for 27th July at the exclusive Mayfair Hotel in London, ahead of its much anticipated worldwide release in August.
The making of the heart-warming romantic comedy, which was written and directed by Tomas Lutuli Brickhill and produced by Joe Njagu, is a story on its own from being first screened on the roof of the New Ambassador Hotel the film has now travelled the world and has been a hit with critics and audiences, screening at various prestigious film festivals such as IFFR in Rotterdam, SIFF in Seattle, DIFF in Durban, the Festival International Du Film PanAfrican in Cannes, and many more.
The UK premiere comes on the back of small independent theatrical runs in Zimbabwe and in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana as well through Sunshine Cinema. At the East African premiere at NBO Film Fest in Kenya, the film makers began talks with Crimson Multimedia for distribution in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Director Tomas Lutuli Brickhill said the film’s success has already had an impact on the local industry, “I think Zimbabwe has a wealth of talent in storytelling, but without evidence people will doubt your abilities. Cook Off has shown that even with very limited resources, we can produce something that can be compared with much bigger budget films coming out of elsewhere in Africa.”
The movie which won the Outstanding Screen Production (Film), and Best Actress (Film) at the 18thNational Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) features an all-star cast led by Tendie Chitima, who also picked up the Best Actress award at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival where the film once again won Best Film. Hip hop star Tehn Diamond stars opposite Tendie as the romantic lead, with support from Eddie Sandifolo, Charmaine Mujeri and Zimbabwean screen legend Jessesi (Neria) Mungoshi whilst new comer Eugene Zimbudzi gives a scene-stealing performance as the son. Other cameos include comedian Michael Kudakwashe, poet Chirikure Chirikure, Kevin Hanssen, Anne Nhira, Kudzi Sevenzo, various cast members from the popular TV show Wenera and UK Zimbabwean rock star Shingai Shoniwa from the Noisettes.
The feel good story centres around Anesu, played by Tendie Chitima, a struggling single mother from Budiriro who works at a sadza stall but dreams of a better life. Anesu is encouraged by her son Tapiwa, and her grandmother, played by Mungoshi, to enter Zimbabwe’s top reality cooking competition: Battle of the Chefs, for a chance at the $10000 prize. However, the other chefs in the competition hail from Harare’s finest restaurants and Anesu is out of her depth until she finds an ally in fellow competitor, Prince, played by Tehn.
Veteran filmmaker Njagu spoke about being part of the wildly successful movie saying “this was a collaborative effort to show what we can do when we work together – we have set a new standard for Zimbabwean movies and we’re really proud of that.”
The film has been a hit with audiences from Belgium to Swaziland and people can expect a heartfelt, uplifting and truly Zimbabwean story that is packaged in a slick, professional production.
Cook Off has a string of accolades including coming an impressive 38th out of 187 submissions in the audience award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and becoming the first feature film from Zimbabwe ever to be selected for the Seattle International Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in the world, but the film makers insist that this is only the beginning.
Cook Off will premiere in the UK at one of London’s exclusive hotels The Mayfair Hotel, London on Saturday 27th July at 6pm.