I guess I can understand the need to make these quick comparisons that immediately give the audience an easy mental snapshot of what to expect from the film, but I’m really not a fan of reductive descriptions like “Zimbabwean ‘Sex And The City;” however, that’s how it’s being labeled by some.
No matter, I’m still curious about this drama by Zimbabwean writer/director Rumbi Katedza, intriguingly-titled Playing Warriors – what looks like a playful social dramedy about four young women and the challenges they face in balancing the expectations of tradition and social norms that come with being modern, independent women in present day Zimbabwe.
Its synopsis reads:
When Nyarai finds out that her best friend Nonto is getting married, she and her traditionally challenged friends, Maxi, are set into a frenzy at the thought that their time to find ‘Mr. Right’ may be running out! Nyarai endeavours to find out whether or not it is possible to find a man as strong and dependable as the mythical traditional warrior. Although she is a top executive with a leading advertising agency, her parents are not satisfied insisting that she needs to get married to pave the way for her younger sister Mati. They tell her she should forget her frivolous ideas and concentrate on finding a good man to settle down with, while also insisting that Mati’s dreams of becoming a professional basketball player are unrealistic and inappropriate for a good Zimbabwean girl. Set against the backdrop of Nyarai’s own romantic escapades with her basketball playing toyboy Che and her more mature and financially stable older boyfriend, Leslie, Nyarai must decide in which direction she wants to take her life without simultaneously upsetting too many people.
As I already noted… that familiar on-screen struggle between tradition and modernity that’s a popular theme in quite a few continental African films we’ve profiled on this site.
Director Katedza is no stranger to the screen, as she has a 13-part TV series, a feature documentary, and as the festival director of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival from 2004 to 2006, amongst other accomplishments.
Playing Warriors is a film that she has said is her most personal, and that she’d been wanting to make for a long time, because it reflected the lives of the women in her circle of family and friends.
The film made its USA premiere earlier this year at the New York African Film Festival (I unfortunately missed it), and will screen next at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa in a few days.
There’s a wonderfully insightful interview with Rumbi at the African Women In Cinema blog HERE, which I encourage you to read, and get to know her a little more.
Here’s the trailer for Playing Warriors: