By Actor/Director Alexander Bedria
Seattle, WA (The Hollywood Times) 12/13/17 — Actor Alexander Bedria’s directorial debut The Zim, which he also wrote,
took home the top prize when it recently premiered at LA Shorts International Film Festival. Almost 300 shorts were in contention for the award. This drama stars Alexander Bedria (The Newsroom, Ray Donovan), Tongayi Chrisia (iZombie, Gaffigan), Amanda Wing (Sunshine State), Constance Ejuma (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, 24), Shaun Baker (V.I.P) and Caroline Largerfelt (Gossip Girl).
The Zim is the story of one man’s struggle to protect his farm and loved ones from a violent land invasion. Inspired by true events that occurred during the controversial Zimbabwean land seizures in the early 2000’s, The Zim follows the story of farmer Daniel Silva (Alexander Bedria) who must decide between fleeing the country or standing his ground.
(native Zimbabwean Tongayi Chirisa), his farmhand, is torn between loyalty to his lifelong friend and fear of the powerful men who lead the charge to invade the farm.
———- The Review ———
Where do I begin? What a joy! I was totally impressed with this wonderful short film. From the beginning, the story is sets you up with a brief history of Zimbabwe’s struggles from being part of the
British Empire for nearly 100 years, to falling into a bloody war from 1965 – 1980, to when it gained its independence that same year, to the decades that followed where the people of this country were divided by racial inequality in wealth and land ownership.
The film opens with two men, one black, one white, both friends in a divided independent nation sharing everything with each other. Daniel Silva (played by Alexander Bedria; The Newsroom, Ray Donovan) and William Zimunya (native Zimbabwean actor, Tongayi Chirisa), working gathering wood, discussing the lack of rain, and recounting their relationship both on a personal and professional level.
They head off to return to their shared home where they break bread together.
Cara Silva, (Amanda Wing, Sunshine State), Constance Ejuma (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, 24), are in the kitchen when Cara needs to rest as she’s pregnant. They hear car doors closing, thinking it’s Daniel and William but find, Wilson Matonga (played by Shaun Baker; V.I.P.) with a couple of thugs standing outside their car just as Daniel and William arrive home. This sets up the tension that’s felt throughout the film. Matonga puts Daniel on notice that he wants them off “his” land within 24 hours and that although Daniel has a birthright to the land from his ancestors, Matonga doesn’t care.
Daniel tries to reason stating that he’s not responsible for the ghosts that created the tensions when Matonga states, “The only ghost I see, is you!”. This is a racial slur, as it felt to me, against Daniel and his family as Matonga feels that since he’s African, more specifically, a “black” African, that “his” right to the land usurps Daneils, period. Matonga leaves, confidently, after serving papers to Daniel proving that the land is indeed Matonga’s.
Daniel, Cara, William and his wife (Constance Ejuma; 24, Beyond Borders, Criminal Minds) celebrate Emma’s birthday, Cara’s mother (Caroline Largerfelt; Gossip Girl). But the joy is short-lived when Emma asks about being served papers and noting the although Daniel’s received papers before, this was in-person and was something to be taken seriously.
As the movie continues, we see scenes with William and his wife and Daniel and his wife, late in the evening unable to sleep due to this Matonga’s visit.
William is found severely beaten and bloodied off to the side of the home, left there for dead by Matonga and his thugs the night before. This attack on William defiles not only his farmhand but his friend enraging Daniel to take drastic steps which would escalate tensions further and quite possibly, end in the death of his wife, unborn child and extended family.
Without giving the ending away, I was completely impressed with how Alexander was able to capture the racial tensions that still exist today and have existed for over 250 years here in the United States. What Daniel and William have is a bond, a friendship, both unseen and seen, which cannot be broken but felt always. Both men, have worked and lived together for so long that they no longer see BLACK or WHITE but, “HUMAN.”
This harkens back to an old Classic Star Trek episode; Let that be your last Battlefield. In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise find themselves caught in the middle of an intractable conflict with a bizarre fugitive alien and his equally belligerent pursuer. Bella and Lokai are two men that HATE each other and what both stand for. One is black on the right and the other is white on the right. It was Gene Roddenberry’s way of addressing what Alexander so brilliantly did with “The Zim.”
In the comparison I make with Star Trek, Matonga is Bella and Daniel is Lokai, and never the twain shall meet.
Unlike Star Trek, however, a resolution may be possible, but unlikely. In the 1960’s racial tensions in the USA were exactly like they were a world away in Zimbabwe. Alexander captured what has been a constant struggle with the all the peoples of Earth; we just can’t get along; ever, well, that’s how this reviewer sees it anyway. Over my 57 years on this planet, I’ve seen people live and work together and HATE that very fact, yet the people they hate, haven’t a clue why they are being hated but are getting along just fine.
Alexander makes it a point to not only show the racial divide, which is worsening through the hatred of Daniel by Matonga, that he sees Daniels ghosts (ancestors) in Daniel, therefore, they were hated, ergo, Daniel must also be hated, ergo, the cycle MUST CONTINUE! But, Alexander finds a way to somehow BREAK that
cycle in the end with by showing that Matonga is simply, following in his ancestor’s footsteps as well; CONTINUE THE HATE and FEAR is what is driving Matonga, as you’ll see when you see this film’s brilliant end.
I’m excited to give this film a resounding thumbs up and 5 STARS as for me, Alexander helped to show me that if we LIVE by the sword we shall DIE by the sword. We cannot continue the cycle of HATE and RESENTMENT. Just because our ancestors did something doesn’t mean that their descendants are or will be guilty of the same thing. The PAST DOES NOT EQUAL the FUTURE!
Today, we’re headed down that very same path. Just look at what’s happening between two governments; one, a SUPERPOWER and the other, the little kid on the block that wants to play with the big boys and is, unfortunately, not fully grown enough either mentally or in maturity to know the difference that what is happening and what HE is doing will get us all killed.
Thank you, Alexander for your film, your insightful vision to make this and show us that our faults are still with us, alive and well and we need to lay down our arms, be responsible and stop seeing in monochrome and start living in technicolor because what we’ve been given, is worth far more than we puny humans could ever imagine and that, my friends, is life, peace!