The decision to charge Zimbabwean filmmakers Tendai Maduwa and Kudakwashe Bwititi, along with Arterial Network Chairman and President Daves Guzha, and director of the Harare creative space Theater in the Park (TITP) Peter Churu with unlawfully screening a fictional film, The Lord of Kush, is an “unjust act of intimidation” and threat to artistic freedom, PEN America said in a statement today.
Charges Seen as a Threat to Artistic Freedom in Zimbabwe
The Lord of Kush, which was screened in an unfinished format for advance review, tells the story of a clash of cultures between Islamic and Christian communities in Zimbabwe, and the ensuing violence that results.
In 2018, following the first presidential election since Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was ousted by the military in November 2017, a campaign of violence and intimidation was launched to silence opposition leaders, journalists, and artists. Then, in January this year, the Zimbabwean government shut down the internet, actively restricting the flow of information in order to inhibit media, journalists, and activists.
PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. Arterial Network is a member of ARC’s Advisory Committee. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.