Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism alumna Ngosa Chungu recently produced a documentary film, e18hteam, focusing on the inspirational story of the Zambian national football team recovering from a tragic airplane crash in 1993. The film is a Spanish-Zambian collaboration between Chungu and Spanish writer, director and co-producer Juan Rodriguez-Briso of Omnicorp Estudio. The documentary, which will also be released to commemorate the country’s 50th year of independence from British colonial rule, focuses on the “never give up” attitude of the Zambian football team, the Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets).
Another important theme of the film is the number 18, which recurs throughout. Eighteen players were lost in the tragic crash and 18 penalties were needed to obtain their victory in 2012. This, as explained by the producer, is the reason why the film is called e18team. Another distinct feature of the movie is the enthusiastic and eclectic artists who have contributed their music, such as Pompi, one of Zambia’s most popular artists.
The background score of the film was done by celebrated British composer Micheal Nyman, who wrote the score for the Oscar-nominated film The Piano. E18hteam also features the late Dennis Liwewe, Zambia’s legendary football commentator, who covered games locally and internationally for media such as BBC since the 1960s. In the movie, he talks about on how football is more than just a game and it unites nations. Some other narrators in the film include Captain Christopher Katongo, Football Association of Zambia President Kalushya Bwalya and Coach Herve Renard, who explained this seemingly predestined win.The film effectively narrates the story and history of Zambian football, the country’s pride and joy when it comes to sports.
The theme of the movie revolves around how the Chipolopolo emerged victorious at the Africa Cup of Nations, co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in 2012. The focus of the film is on the victory of the team, which occurs in the very place where the team lost 18 of its crucial major players in a horrible plane crash, which was a huge blow to Zambian national spirit. Eighteen years and nine months later, the team emerges victorious on Gabonese soil. Another aspect of the movie focuses on a similiar loss of 18 players on the Italian team. In doing this, the film includes other voices who, beyond empathizing, share similar experiences such as the one which occurred.
“I grew up as an ardent football fan,” Chungu, the film’s producer, said. “We aim at preserving the Zambian history by making this film.”
She believes a “divine intervention of the 18 players who died in the crash” might have aided the team in winning the cup in 2012.
Chungu also said her father knew several of the team members who passed away on the day of the tragic incident. She vividly remembers her father crying and cannot forget the incident, a dark day in the hearts of many Zambians. Chungu plans on circulating the film around Italy in the near future to raise sponsorship since she funded the production of the film herself.
Chungu considers herself to be a proud Zambian and is happy to have been given the opportunity to make such an important film that will help preserve, “When a Zambian dies, so does a library,” she adds.
The film will premiere at Fresh View Cinemas in Lusaka, Zambia, on Friday, Oct. 16, a week before Zambia’s Golden Jubilee independence celebrations on Oct. 24. It also will be screened in Spain on Zambia’s Golden Jubilee at one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious film festivals, Seminci (Semana Internacional de Cine — International Week of Cinema), the Laboratorio de las Artes de Valladolid and at LAVA, Sala Concha Velasco.
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