an ajabu ajabu production

‘apostles of cinema’

dir. darragh amelia & gertrude malizana
w. jesse gerard mpango and cece mlay

commissioned by WePresent

Apostles of Cinema (or Tenzi za Sinema) follows Frank, DJ Black, and Rehema — three devoted film workers in Tanzania — as they reintroduce a classic piece of the country’s film history to their audiences of working class cinephiles. We join them, alongside Maangamizi: The Ancient One (2001), on a journey through the labyrinth of informal libraries, studios, and cinemas that exist to keep film and film culture alive. A testament to the profound cultural value of film when made truly accessible.


06/03/23 - world premiere: manyema sinema (TZ)
08/03/23 - tampere film festival (FI)
23/04/23 - estación terrena (CO)
27/04/23 - int’l short film festival oberhausen (DE)

16/05/23 - flatpack festival (UK)
19/05/23 - ny african film festival (US)
05/06/23 - eye international conference (NL)
07/06/23 - kurzfilm festival hamburg (DE)
22/06/23 - encounters int’l doc festival (SA)
28/06/23 - zanzibar international film festival (TZ)
07/07/23 *postponed - institute of contemporary arts (UK)
21/07/23 *winner best african short- durban international film festival (SA)
03/08/23 - melbourne international film festival (AU)
04/08/23 - dokufest (XK)
07/08/23 *winner best documentary- la guarimba film festival (IT)

28/08/23 - odense int’l film festival (DK)
01/09/23 - FAME short film festival (SA)
04/09/23 *winner best production - drama international short film festival (GR)
09/09/23 - dmz docs (KR)
11/10/23 - *nominee best short chicago international film festival (US)
23/10/23 - uppsala int’l short film festival (SE)
08/11/23 - aesthetica film festival (UK)
06/11/23 - norwich film festival (UK)
14/11/23 - * winner best documentary interfilm festival berlin (DE)
15/11/23 - *nominee best short cork international film festival (IE)
15/11/23 - anthology film archives - w/ millennium film journal (US)
03/01/24 - shorts attack (DE)
19/01/24 - london short film festival (UK)
27/02/24 - joburg film festival (SA)

23 official selections

︎︎︎11 Academy Award®-qualifying festivals
︎︎︎2 Academy Award®-qualifying award nominations
︎︎︎4 festival awards (3 Academy Award®-qualifying) 

a note from DA, GM, JGM, & CM

In 2001, a film was released from Tanzania titled Maangamizi: The Ancient One. Despite international acclaim, the film went virtually unseen at home — a fate far too common for works of African cinematic heritage.

Ajabu Ajabu’s interrogation into why this is has been met by popular response that the country is ‘lacking in film culture’.
Apostles of Cinema counters this claim. (Informally) constructed around Ajabu Ajabu’s efforts to ‘return’ this piece of cinematic heritage to local audiences — the work examines the definition of preservation and advocates for a re-imagination of the practice to prioritise cultural value. What is proposed by our collective and our collaborators is an ethos of radical accessibility based upon open and inclusive modes of circulation, interpretation, and communion.

It is our hope that this window into the, actually, exceptionally vibrant film cultures of Tanzania can build solidarity around distribution practices that centre a reciprocal relationship with audience and highlight the inter-dependency driving contemporary experiences of cinema around the world. ✨

this film is part of our long-term creative research project --- manifested belonging