Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain
Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain.png
The film's theatrical release poster
Directed byDunzvi Mwaruwari
Written byTafadzwa Dabengwa
Musafare Mudzuri
Produced byIssac Lepolesa
StarringFarirai Chikuhwa
Goodluck Mutsekwa
Music byBenjamin Zvinavashe
Production
company
Release dates
Running time
119 minutes
Country Rwizikuru
LanguageEstmerish

Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain is a 2022 Rwizikuran historical drama film by KudaProgress Studios, set in Donston in the early 1920s between the Great Collapse and the Great War, with the title being a reference to Lord De Moustiers' statement in 1911 describing Donston as having "such beautiful Estmerish rain, such delicious Estmerish mud." The film depicts a Rwizi couple who live in Tabatala, with Tichayana Chigwedere working as a porter at the D'Onston Hotel, and Findjoy Chigwedere working as a nanny for a varungu family who lives in Donston, and how they face the prejudices inherent in the system of murungocracy.

The film is scheduled to be released at the 83rd Montecara Film Festival on 24 October, 2022, with a worldwide release scheduled for 1 December, 2022.

Plot summary

The film opens on a rainy day in Tabatala. Tichayana Chigwedere (Goodluck Mutsekwa) and his wife, Findjoy (Farirai Chikuhwa) are on a wooden carriage heading up the long and winding road to the hill station on the summit of Mount D'Onston at the start of the day, as they both work at the hill station of Donston: Tichayana as a porter at a hotel catering to poorer whites who could not afford to own their own homes in Donston, and Findjoy as a nanny for the Musgrave family. After arriving at the High Street, the two exchange a brief kiss before he heads to the D'Onston Hotel, and she heads to Musgrave House.

Upon her arrival at Musgrave House, Philip Musgrave (Jake Douglas) tells her that he and his wife, Genivive (Naomi Turner) would be heading down the mountain for a safari for the day, so she would be responsible for caring for their three children, Brenda (Isabelle Gardner), Frank (Wyatt Smith), and Priscilla (Cleo Robinson). After he explains to her the procedures for taking care of the children, even though she already knew how to take care of the children, due to his belief that Bahians were unintelligent, Philip and Genivive leave Musgrave House.

At the D'Onston Hotel, Tichayana is rebuked by his supervisor, Freemen Ephraim Pickart (Abiel Leeper), for allegedly damaging the suitcase of Robert Varley (Dillon Marshall), a civil servant assigned to Rusere. Pickart tells him that if he damages any suitcase again, he will be fired and charged for property damage. Although he protests, with he claiming that Varley's suitcase was falling apart when he arrived at the hotel, Pickart silences Tichayana, saying that if he continues to protest, he would see to it that he would lose his job. Pickart then sends Tichayana's co-worker, Mosiuoa Reaotlotla (Khotso Nkwenyane) to a store so that Varley can receive a new suitcase to replace his damaged one.

At the store, he finds a high-quality suitcase. As he was about to pay for the suitcase, the owner of the store, Mirite Gorte Sawiris (Semil Mahassi), tells him to leave the store, because Sawiris suspects that he is trying to steal a suitcase. When he tells Gorte that he was sent there by the hotel to buy Varley a suitcase, Sawiris tells him that "that's what all the thieves say" and again orders him to leave. When he protests, Sawiris calls the local constabulary, and tells the constabulary that he was trying to steal a suitcase from his store. A constable (Jack Newman) soon arrives and arrests Mosiuoa for theft, despite his protests. However, the constable arrives at the hotel, and informs Pickart that Mosiuoa claimed that he was under the orders of Pickart to purchase a suitcase to replace Varley's damaged suitcase. He defends Mosiuoa, saying that he sent him to buy a suitcase from Sawiris' shop because Tichayana damaged Varley's suitcase. Due to Pickart's status as a Freemen, while the constable does not entirely trust him, the constable was forced to let him go, and for Sawiris to allow him to pay for the suitcase. After he finally completes the transaction, Gorte bans him from the store, but he is now able to give the suitcase to Robert in compensation for the damage "caused" by Tichayana.

Meanwhile at the Musgrave House, Findjoy decides to teach the Musgrave children of her people and her traditions, after Frank asks her if they ate other people "like they did in the austral novels he reads. She explains the traditions of the Rwizi to Brenda, Frank, and Priscilla, which Frank and Priscilla enjoy. However, Brenda openly scoffs at Findjoy teaching them about her people, asking her "why should we learn about your ways when you have yet to be civilised by us?" She responds that, like them, she is part of the Embrian Communion, goes to church every Sunday, speaks Estmerish, but because of who she is, she has to live in a shantytown down below Mount D'Onston. However, Brenda expresses her disapproval of her explanation, and doubles down on her racist statements. Findjoy, although upset with Brenda's statement, simply denies Brenda's allegations, so that she could keep her job, as she knew Brenda got her attitude from her father.

As the day progresses, Tichayana and his co-workers take a brief break in a supply closet at the D'Onston Hotel. There, they discuss plans to present a "united front" against Pickart, and his boss, Dexter Puchot (Ted Anderson), as they criticise how Ephraim "mistreats his workers" by blaming them for when things go wrong, and sending them to do errands to shops which either ban Bahians outright, or else racially profile them, as well as Puchot turning a blind eye to both Ephraim Pickart and to paying them only a penny a day. Tichayana presents his proposal, suggesting that if Puchot does not replace Ephraim with a supervisor "who cares about us not only when the constables drag us away, but all the other times," or at the very least, keep closer tabs on Ephraim, and double their wages, every Bahian employee will not show up to work until they meet their demands, with Tichayana challenging Pickart and Puchot "to run a hotel without any black man and woman." Everyone in the room, after a moment, agrees with Tichayana's suggestion, and Mosiuoa volunteers to present the demands to Pickart.

When Mosiuoa presents the demands to Pickart at his office, he dismisses Mosiuoa from his office, saying that he prevented Mosiuoa "from being sent down the mountain" and complains of Mosiuoa's insolence. He then tells Mosiuoa that if he knew that Mosiuoa would present these demands, he would have let the constable take Mosiuoa down the mountain. After a few moments, Mosiuoa wishes him "good luck" and leaves the room to inform Tichayana and the rest of his co-workers of the outcome. When Mosiuoa informs him about the results, he is busy transporting the luggage of Freemen Love Hopkins (Theophilus Lambourne) into the hotel. After he receives the information, he says "after tonight, we will go on strike until our demands are met." Hopkins then asks the two what they were talking about. He attempts to lie, but Mosiuoa tells Hopkins that "we are dissatisfied with our working conditions" at the hotel. Hopkins is sympathetic, and decides to find another place to stay.

As the evening wore on, Findjoy begins to be a bit worried about Philip and Genivive, in part because while he told her that she could only leave when they get home, she is aware that she, like "every native," has to leave D'Onston no later than 11 pm, when a bell chimes from the town hall. Despite her worries, she does not express them to the Musgrave children, and instead does what Philip told her to do. At 10 pm, she hears a knock at the door, and opens to see her husband, Tichayana. He asks her to head home with him, because he expresses concern that the constabulary would arrest her for breaking the curfew imposed on the native population in the upper town. However, she refuses, because if she left before Philip and Genivive come home, she will not only be fired, but also charged with neglecting children in her care. However, Tichayana insists that she go home with him, and vows that he will not leave the town without her. This continued until Philip and Genivive arrive home. When Philip asks Findjoy "who is that man you are speaking with," Findjoy explains that he is her husband trying to get her to go home before the bell chimes, while she insisted on staying until Philip and Genivive return. Genivive, recognising him, then asks them "what happened to little Ceecee?"

Findjoy explains that it was better for Ceecee to live with her relatives near Munzwa than to live down below in the "unsanitary conditions" of Tabatala. However, when Genivive asks if that was the real reason, she sighs, as the film flashes back to a sunny day at the Musgrave House. Frank and Ceecee (Shindi Mangwende) were playing together, when Brenda calls for Ceecee. She ran towards her, but Brenda threw a rock at Ceecee's head, injuring her. The flashback ends, with Philip and Genivive both shocked, and blanched in horror. After a few moments, he hastily dismisses Findjoy for the night, and both Findjoy and Tichayana head to High Street to catch a carriage down to Tabatala. They step on a waiting carriage, and as soon as it started heading down the mountain, the bell chimed.

The following morning, Tichayana wakes Findjoy up as she still has to go to work. As they have breakfast together, he tells her about the strike at the hotel. She expresses some concern that it would hurt their finances, but approves of his decision, as she knew that her friends who work at the hotel would also benefit if the hotel is forced to double their wages. After breakfast, she takes the carriage up the rainy slopes of Mount D'Onston. While the carriage is normally full with workers, the carriage is only 3/4s full, as the workers at the hotel were all on strike. After arriving at High Street, she notices a bunch of people gathering around the D'Onston Hotel, mostly guests angry that no one served them breakfast or did any cleaning. However, Findjoy ignores the scene and instead heads back to Musgrave House.

Upon her arrival at Musgrave House, she is greeted by Philip and Brenda, with Philip telling her that Brenda confessed her actions, and that he ordered her to apologise for her actions. Findjoy accepts the apology, and Philip offers to make amends by inviting her "whole family for a luncheon at Musgrave House." She accepts the offer, in part because she wants to introduce the Musgraves to her extended relatives.

In Tabatala, word of the strike spread, forcing Puchot to head to Tabatala to negotiate with the strikers. Upon Puchot's arrival to Tichayana's house, Puchot asks him of the demands that Mosiuoa presented to Pickart. After he presents the demands to Puchot, Puchot ups the offer by tripling the wages from a penny a day, to threepence a day, as well as offering Tichayana Chigwedere a promotion to supervisor. He accepts the offer, and soon, the two men head to the employee's doors to inform them that wages were tripled, and that a new supervisor is appointed to replace Ephraim Pickart. His co-workers were overjoyed to hear that he reached a settlement with Puchot, and got a better deal, leading to the strike being called off.

At the end of the day, Tichayana and Findjoy meet up at Green Park, and he tells her that Puchot tripled wages and appointed him to be the new supervisor, while she tells him that the Musgraves were making amends "for their cruelty," and that they are planning an "Estmerish feast" for the family. They step on a waiting carriage on High Street, and head down the mountain into the night.

Cast

Bahian characters

  • Farirai Chikuhwa as Findjoy Chigwedere
  • Goodluck Mutsekwa as Tichayana Chigwedere
  • Shindi Mangwende as Ceecee Chigwedere
  • Abiel Leeper as Ephraim Pickart
  • Khotso Nkwenyane as Mosiuoa Reaotlotla
  • Semil Mahassi as Gorte Sawiris
  • Theophilus Lambourne as Love Hopkins

White characters

  • Jake Douglas as Philip Musgrave
  • Naomi Turner as Genivive Musgrave
  • Isabelle Gardner as Brenda Musgrave
  • Wyatt Smith as Frank Musgrave
  • Cleo Robinson as Priscilla Musgrave
  • Dillon Marshall as Robert Varley
  • Jack Newman as a constable
  • Ted Anderson as Dexter Puchot

Production

Director Dunzvi Mwaruwari, 2020

Writing

The film was written by Tafadzwa Dabengwa from June 2018 until May 2020. Dabengwa got the idea for writing Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain when she went to a guest lecture at the University of Rwizikuru in 2017 discussing the tropes present in the austral novels, and how it contributed to colonialism in Bahia. According to Dabengwa:

"As I listened and learnt at that guest lecture by Professor Chiweshe, I began thinking about the archetypes present in these novels: the 'brutish' Bahian, the duplicitious Rahelian, the white saviour, and started to think about what it says not of the Coians, but rather, of those who had the mind and motivation to create these stories in the first place."

Thus, Dabengwa's initial ideas for Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain was to deconstruct the tropes present in the austral novels, by presenting the varungu "exactly as they have presented us as being in their books and pamphlets," while presenting the Bahian protagonists as being competent men and women. She chose to set it in Donston as the hill station "most starkly presented the segregation present in colonial society," with the varungu residing on the summit, while the Bahians resided below the mountain. She also chose to set it between the Great Collapse and the Great War, as Dabengwa felt that "focusing on the liminal space" would help present the attitudes "of those who try and still live like it was the Long Peace while no longer having the financial stature to do so."

However, as she wrote the screenplay for Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain, she altered her initial vision to provide "more fleshed out characters" and provide a more interesting plotline, while making sure that the plot was "as accurate as possible to what Donston was like in the early 1920s." To this end, in October 2019, Dabengwa hired historian Musafare Mudzuri to be her co-writer, so that he could help her "make the film more accurate than any austral novel ever could." By May 2020, with Dabengwa and Mudzuri deeming the film "accurate and complete," they would begin to find a studio willing to produce the film.

Direction

Filming for Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain began in May 2021 and ended in September 2021, with retakes taking place as late as February 2022. Production was done entirely by KudaProgress Studios, with Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain being directed by Dunzvi Mwaruwari, and produced by Issac Lepolesa.

Exterior shots were filmed in the Upper and Lower Towns of Donston, with some exterior shots filmed in Rusere for a more "authentic colonial feeling." Most of the interior shots were filmed within the grounds of KudaProgress Studios in Port Fitzhubert.

All characters, including extras who were not credited, were dressed up in "typical early 1920s fashion." This required hiring tailors and fashion historians to determine what would be worn in early 1920s Donston, in order to ensure that the film did not "perpetuate the stereotypes that it is trying to critique."

Music

The score for Such Beautiful Estmerish Rain was composed by Benjamin Zvinavashe. Under Musafare Mudzuri's direction, Zvinavashe's score was based off of early 1920s music that was popular in the colony, as Mudzuri believed that it would "enhance the ambience" of the movie.

Zvinavashe used the big band orchestra as a basis for his music, with his compositions designed to be played by a seventeen-piece orchestra. This was done as Zvinavashe felt that big band orchestras would make the score sound older, and thus, more authentic to the ears of the audience.

However, the songs themselves were based off of parlour music and off the music styles typically played at a music hall in the early 1920s. Zvinavashe makes a clear distinction in the types of music being played, with parlour music being associated with "more intimate scenes," such as the scenes at the Chigwedere residence in Tabatala, the scenes at Musgrave House, and the scenes at both the supply closet and the scene at Ephraim Pickart's office when Mosiuoa Reaotlotla presents the demands to Ephraim Pickart, while music hall-style music was associated with "public scenes," such as most of the scenes at D'Onston Hotel, scenes at Green Park, and scenes along the road up to Donston from Tabatala.

Zvinavashe's score was meant to "accentuate the plot of the film," not to "distract or detract from it," with Zvinavashe refusing to put music "just for music's sake." Thus, every song in the score is connected to a given scene in some way, with some scenes, such as the opening scene where Tichayana and Findjoy head up from Tabatala to Donston, or Findjoy and Tichayana's conversation at Musgrave House having no music at all.