© jip film & verleih GbR

Die Liebe in ungleichen Zeiten (Tug of War, Vuta N'Kuvute)
Qatar/Germany/Tanzania/South Africa 2022

Opening 18 Apr 2024

Directed by: Amil Shivji
Writing credits: Amil Shivji, Jenna Cato Bass, Shafi Adam Shafi, Simon Rieber
Principal actors: Gudrun Mwanyika, Ikhlas Gafur Vora, Siti Amina, Lukman Ali

Zanzibar, on Africa’s east coast, is divided into different regions: African, Indian, and Arab. Yasmin (Ikhlas Gafur Vora) flees both her older husband whom she was forced to marry, as well as her Indian community and moves in with her African friend Mwajuma (Siti Amina), who is a singer. She meets Mwajuma’s African acquaintance Denge (Gudrun Mwanyika) and some of his friends: Chande, Pazi, and Mambo. Denge says that he works as a fisher. Some describe him as a “communist” and his main interest is distributing flyers about freeing the government of Tanzania from the rule of Great Britain. Naturally, Yasmin and Denge fall in love, much to the concern of her mother. Her future tilts when Denge lands in jail. She assumes his activities, travelling by boat to the town of Dar es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania.

This is a typical love story which could be told in fifteen minutes in any country. Boy meets girl; they fall in love; circumstances prevent a happy life. However, here, it is interesting to watch action filmed in Zanzibar with actors perhaps unfamiliar to many of us. One of the few white actors is Nick Reding, who plays Inspector Wright from Great Britain. The film encourages us to research the history of Zanzibar, an island which became part of Tanzania in 1964 after Tanzania became independent in 1961. More research shows the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890 when Germany recognized British authority in Zanzibar and, in return, Britain gave Germany control of the island of Helgoland. And so on. Seventeen African songs carry the plot aided by additional original scores. I saw the film in Swahili with German subtitles. The title translates literally into “love during diverse times” and is being featured as Tug of War in some countries.  (Becky Tan)

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