In this second part of our conversation with Tendai, shares the impact of the success of Cook Off, especially now that the film has made it to Netflix. She expresses her optimism of the film industry in Zimbabwe and her dream to inspire young women.
“What I want to do is to just make a positive impact and really inspire people to pursue their dreams, especially young people.” – Tendai Chitima
Tendai graduated from the University of Cape Town in South Africa with a Bachelor of Arts in Film, Media & Writing and Drama. During and after her studies she acted in several student short films, and even did musical stage productions as a conceptualiser, song writer, co-director and actress. Having worked as a runner in film production, Tendai gained experience in editing, and on-set management. With radio production skills training, she has also published scripts on national radio.
Shot in 2017, Zimbabwe’s political and economic situation were not exactly ideal, and the film had a meagre starting budget of just $8,000.
Tendai shares their challenges during filming, and how they were able to pull it off with much collaboration, hard work, and efficient creative decisions and opportunities, like repurposing the existing set of Zimbabwe’s version of Top Chef to be used for their film. An article from The Guardian details the grueling experiences of the cast and crew during filming, including barely covering food on set, having no running water, experiencing power cuts, and even getting choked on tear gas dispersed in an anti-government protest.
Despite the extremely difficult filming conditions and process, the film was well received and officially selected as part of the International Film Festival of Rotterdam 2018, the Seattle Film Festival 2018, and others. Tendai won Best Actress at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival in 2018 for her role in Cook Off. She has also received the honors of National Arts Merit Awards Outstanding Actress (NAMA) in 2019.
Cook Off is now streaming internationally on Netflix.