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Tug of War

Spring Grants 2020 - Post-Production Stage
Current project status: POST-PRODUCTION

Amil Shivji / Feature Narrative / Tanzania, South Africa, Germany, Qatar / 2021 / 90 min / Original Language: English, Swahili / Interests: Drama, Politics, History


Denge, a frustrated and rebellious young man meets Yasmin, a young Indian-Zanzibari girl in the middle of the night as she is on her way to be betrothed to a man three times her age. This sparks a series of missed opportunities for the forlorn lovers. Yasmin escapes her oppressive marriage and returns to Zanzibar, where she faces rejection from her own family. She seeks refuge at Mwajuma’s house in the Swahili quarters of the segregated island, submerging herself in an oppressed yet effervescent culture that she had always been secluded from. Here Yasmin meets Denge who is deeply immersed in the independence struggle against British rule, busy translating and distributing Soviet propaganda. She is pulled towards his ideals of independence as he feels free around her. When Denge’s recklessness lands him behind bars, it’s up to Yasmin to be part of the larger struggle and free the one she loves.


Amil Shivji
Amil Shivji, Jenna Bass
Steven Markovitz, Amil Shivji

About the Director

Amil Shivji is based in Tanzania as a filmmaker and lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam. He believes in using images to challenge the powers that be, in particular, deconstructing urban facades of development and emphasizing the strength and struggles of marginalized communities. Amil has written, directed and produced short fiction films that have participated in Rotterdam and FESPACO as well as winning the People’s Choice Award in Zanzibar and Best Director and Best Short film in Africa. His feature directorial debut ‘T-Junction’ (2017) opened Zanzibar International Film Festival and won three awards. He has a master’s in Fine Arts from York University in Toronto, Canada.

Production Company Profile

Big World Cinema, established in 1994 in South Africa, has produced feature films, documentaries, TV series and shorts, many of which have screened at festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Berlinale, Venice and Toronto. Over the past twelve years, Big World Cinema has focused on producing and distributing content across the continent of Africa and has produced in over 20 African countries. Recent films include 'Rafiki', 'aKasha', 'High Fantasy', 'Silas' and 'Winnie'. Big World has worked with over 100 African directors and produced a number of projects with directors such as Wanuri Kahiu, Hajooj Kuka, Jihan El-Tahri, Brian Tilley and Jim Chuchu.

Kijiweni Productions is an independent Tanzanian film production house that is focused on producing socially conscious films. Our films include 'Shoeshine' (2013, Tampere, Durban), 'Samaki Mchangani' (2014, Film Africa, FESPACO), 'Aisha' (2015, Seattle, Cinemas D'afrique), 'T-Junction' (2017 FESPACO, ZIFF) and 'Wahenga' (2018, Film Africa, ZIFF). Apart from making films, Kijiweni is involved in film training & mentorship and exhibitions.


  • Main Contact

    Steven Markovitz

    Big World Cinema
    +27 83 2611 044

  • Production Company

    Big World Cinema

    Big World Cinema

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