Fighting Malaria... on screen
‘Fighting Malaria… On Screen’ set out to empower filmmakers from Ghana and Tanzania to reframe the narrative around malaria and its impact in creative ways that would resonate with local audiences.
We asked the three talented filmmakers to create entertaining, out-of-the-box content that could capture people’s attention, whilst reflecting key messages on malaria treatment and prevention.
We wanted to give the filmmakers creative license to entertain. By using forms of entertainment like animation, the filmmakers presented malaria messages in new ways that can reach audiences where they are and have greater impact.
Read on to find out more about the talent behind the camera and to watch the films!
The films and talent
Comfort Arthur, Director - The Underestimated Villain
Comfort is a British-born Ghanaian award-winning animator, illustrator, and visual artist. She trained at the Royal College of Arts before moving to Ghana to set up The Comfy Studio. Her short film Black Barbie has screened in more than 50 film festivals across the world. In 2020 she released her first children’s picture book under the same name. Comfort is also the first Ghanaian animator to win the African Academy Movie awards for best animation for her web series I’m Living in Ghana Get Me Out of Here.
The Underestimated Villain tells the story of an Anopheles mosquito the unstoppable and popular villain. The film uses humour and poetry to explore the failures in human behaviours through the mosquito’s perspective. Poetra Asantewa creates a beautiful and engaging poem that coupled with the animation makes for powerful viewing.
“Through research and discussion with experts, we realised that many Ghanaians are aware of the preventive measures against malaria but the death rate due to malaria in Ghana is still exceedingly high due to a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the dangers. Animation and poetry together can be a powerful tool when used to communicate emotions and ideas and I wanted to use this opportunity to discuss the issue of malaria in a unique, entertaining, and easy-to-perceive way that children and adults alike could understand.”
Gwamaka Mwabuka, Director – Mbuland
Gwamaka is a self-taught film director and producer from Dar es Salaam Tanzania and co-founder of Tai Studio, a pioneering animation studio in East Africa producing animation films to inspire youth and children to take positive action.
Mbuland is an all singing and dancing tale of a once healthy community of farmers who have abandoned old ways, paving the way for human blood-sucking mosquitoes to invade a village. Can the young Heri save his community from malaria destruction? By using some dark humour, music, and drama, we walk in a young boy’s shoes with one goal only, to save his village from mosquitos that spread malaria.
“I directed this film ‘Mbuland’ because of the grilling experience my family and almost the rest of my community went through with malaria. Unequivocally, this inspired me to direct this animated short.
“Sick, treat, recover, repeat” was a constant vicious circle of malaria, hurting my family throughout every rainy season. This was purely attributed to not adhering to simple practices of making our surroundings clean.”
Amil Shivji, Director - Mozizi
Amil Shivji is a freelance filmmaker and lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. His short fiction films have received worldwide recognition, featured in prestigious festivals such as International Film Festival Rotterdam and FESPACO in Burkina Faso as well as picking up many accolades on the way including winning People’s Choice Award in Zanzibar and Best Director and Best Short film in Africa.
Mozizi is a mockumentary’ that follows the film’s protagonist, an anthropomorphic human-mosquito ‘Mozizi’ who leads us on her journey in search of answers about malaria in Tanzania. A camera crew follows her around as she wanders the streets in search of a ‘new home’ that personifies and demystifies the disease.
“Malaria is not an uncommon disease in Tanzania. If anything, most of us living here have had it at least once. It can be deadly because of the inadequate response or infrastructure to the disease. However, it can also be treated. With my film, I sought to use humour and comedy to offer a nuanced and comforting approach to what could normally be considered a heartbreaking narrative.”