Zimbabwean 2017 romantic comedy Cook Off has enjoyed many firsts. It’s the first film from a post-Mugabe-led Zimbabwe, the first Zimbabwean film to screen at the Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR) in 22 years, and now the first acquired by Netflix.
The food-centric rom-com follows single mother Anesu, who gets a shot at fame and money when she qualifies for a popular reality TV show, but quickly finds herself out of depth competing with seasoned chefs.
It is written and directed by Tomas Brickhill, who directed Battle of the Chefs: Harare, the real-life reality cooking show that inspired the film. The film had a limiting $8,000 budget, but support from friends and partners ensured its production was a success. A community effort, Cook Off is a triumph for Zimbabwean cinema, the first film in decades to gather much international clout, it has screened in Durban, Nairobi, Settle, Cannes, etc, and has picked raving reviews.
The movie stars local talents, including Tendai Nguni, Tendaiishe Chitima, Chirikure Chirikure, Tehn Diamond and Jesesi Munghoshi. Filmmaker Joe Njagu produced it.
Cook Off is a testament to Netflix’s interest in African stories. The streamer has acquired over forty Nollywood films and recently announced an original limited series, which was in production before the COVID 19 pandemic disruption. It has released two original series from South Africa, and a third one Jiva is on the way.
Watch Cook Off on Netflix from June 2020.