Malawi’s celebrated actor and comedian Michael Usi, popularly known as Manganya, has premiered a new film in the northern city of Mzuzu showing the dangers of going outside the country to seek employment without a work permit and other necessary documents.
The film, entitled “Watch Out,” is about the experiences of a Malawian man trying to settle in the United States with only a visitor’s visa.
Usi is a director of a Malawi’s TV series Tikuferanji (or, Why are we dying). He says the goal of the film is to teach Malawians about the dangers of sneaking out of the country without following regulations.
Over the years many Malawians have left to seek employment in foreign countries, mostly Britain and South Africa. Many of them have been returned as deportees because they didn’t have the necessary documents.
“It’s disgraceful to go to another country without proper documentation,” Usi says.
The film was shot in a suburb of Washington, DC.
“I decided to shoot the film in the USA for two reasons," he says. "Number one: The USA is the biggest film industry in the world. So, I wanted to interact with the gurus of the industry.
“Secondly, some people [in Europe and Africa] have told me, “You are a great actor; you can act anywhere in the world.” So I wanted to go where people respect…acting. And in the USA, they even told me the same."
Usi says the Malawian film industry has a long way to go to meet western standards.
“We are still very far but we are on the right track. What we need is support from the private and public sector because the film industry is a disciplined [one]. It does call for resources -- financial…and the like,” he says.
Usi’s other films include Dr. Manga, Manganya in Action, International Cook and Living on Perfume.
Usi himself is the main actor in the new one. It also features Clare Johnson (American) and Brandon Mitchell (American).
Mitchell is known for his role in various plays, including those of William Shakespeare. Johnson is in Countdown to Ground Zero, a television documentary on The History Channel about the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon almost ten years ago.