Fiche Film
LONG Métrage | 2001
Pays concerné : Tanzanie
Support : 35 mm
Durée : 112 minutes
Type : fiction


Sur les hauteurs du mont Kilimanjaro, deux femmes – une Africaine, et une Américaine – sont conduites par une ancienne et mystérieuse ancêtre dans un voyage mystique.

Version originale : Swahili soustitrée
Réalisateurs : Ron Mulvihill et Martin Mhando


Maangamizi – The Ancient One
Summoned to the majestic heights of Kilimanjaro, two women -one African, one American- are led by an ancient and mysterious ancestor on a primal journey of spiritual awakening.

Swahili with English subtitles
Directors: Ron Mulvihill and Martin Mhando
112 min. DVD; (original format 35mm)

The story locations set in Tanzania, East Africa proceed from the shores of the Indian Ocean to the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Maangamizi – The Ancient One was shot at some of the most beautiful and historic landmarks in Tanzania and was made with the support of Tanzania’s Embassy to the U.S., Tanzania’s Ministry of Tourism, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and the Tanzania Film Company.

Maangamizi – The Ancient One centers around three women, a doctor, her patient and the mysterious ancestor that comes to take them on a journey into their past and inevitably delivers them to a place of healing.

Among the film’s executive producers are Oscar winning producer/director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) as well as Joan Cunning and Steven Shareshian. The film produced by Martin Mhando (currently Chairperson of Media Studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia) and Queenae Taylor Mulvihill was seven long years in the making with principle photography starting in June 1994. Co-producer Leonard Merrill Kurz in association with Forest Creatures Entertainment, and co-producers David Rosshirt and Casta Tungaraza helped to walk the production to its completion which was finalized in November, 2000. Associate Producers Fatma Alloo and Mark Leveri were instrumental in Tanzania.

The film’s two directors, both veteran Tanzanian filmmaker Martin Mhando (Mama Tumaini, Yomba Yomba) and first time feature film director Ron Mulvihill deliver an outstanding directorial feat. Both have been lauded for bringing an exemplary and outstanding spiritual tale to the big screen. Additionally, they brought together an international pool of talent, both cast and crew. The cast and crew made up primarily of Tanzanians also comprised Kenyans, Australians, Americans, Brits and Scottish citizens.

African American cinematographer Willie Earl Dawkins captures the beauty of Tanzania through the lens of the camera and transforms the audience to Tanzania’s exotic locations. James B. Ling, the film’s editor has crafted the images together to make it one of the most memorable film experiences imagined-a film that remains etched in the mind’s of audiences long after they have left the theater.

The original screenplay, written by Queenae Taylor Mulvihill while she was a graduate student at UCLA’s film school was a story originally based on the Greek Goddess, Hekate. Director Mulvihill and screenwriter Taylor Mulvihill met at UCLA, however, Maangamizi – The Ancient One represents their first film project together.

Music composed by Grammy Award winner Cyril Neville, the youngest of The Neville Brothers is both mesmerizing and hypnotic and features the Fina Mbira, an unusual mbira designed by Italian musician Enzo Fina. Both Neville and Fina build inspiring crescendos and harmonic rhythms in the score.

The film stars Amandina Lihamba, a renowned Tanzanian actress who delivers an award-winning performance as « Samehe. » Ms. Lihamba studied at Yale and also studied and performed with the American Negro Ensemble. Currently she is chairperson of the Department of Drama at the University of Dar Es Salaam.

BarbaraO, also stars as « Dr. Asira » in her first major role since her memorable and powerful performance as « Yellow Mary » in Julie Dash’s indie film, Daughters of the Dust.

Maangamizi – The Ancient One features Mwanajuma Ali Hassan as « Bibi Maangamizi » a formidable and accomplished « Taarab » singer from Zanzibar, Ms. Hassan delivers a rare performance by a Zanzibari elder. « Bibi », (a Swahili word meaning grandmother) as the cast and crew affectionately addressed her, effectively brings a loving, compassionate, strong, confident and sometimes humorous quality to the ancient ancestor she portrays.

Additionally, the film has garnered two Best Actress Awards for Amandina Lihamba at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and at the Southern African Film Festival. The Film won the first place prize, The Golden Dhow at the Zanzibar International Film Festival, Second Place Feature at the San Francisco Black Film Festival and Second Place Feature at the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. It has also garnered an Honorable Mention at the Black Dot Ritual Film Festival.

Maangamizi – The Ancient One had its world premiere at the Tokyo African Film Festival, and has played as an official selection at:

Montreal International Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival
FESPACO, Burkina Faso
Haus der Kulturen der Welt Retrospektive, Berlin, Germany
Afrikanisches Filmfestival, Osnabrück/Germany
African Summer Film Series – University of Wisconsin, Madison
West Virginia International Film Festival
Arizona International Film Festival
Pan-African Film Festival, Los Angeles
Pan-African Film Festival, Denver
New York African Film Festival
New York African Diaspora Film Festival
Africa in the Picture, Amsterdam
Southern African Film Festival
Zanzibar International Film Festival
Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame
Black Dot Ritual Film Festival

Additional special screenings have been held at:
The United Nations World Conference on Racism, Durban, South Africa;
The Spiritual Institute for Divine Wisdom, Atlanta, GA
The Institute of Karmic Guidance, Washington DC
the KRST Unity Church, Los Angeles, CA.
As one of the 51 Foreign Language film entries, Maangamizi – The Ancient One has been invited to screen at the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival, Jan 10-21, 2002.

The film has been distinguished with praises and accolades from famed author Alice Walker (The Color Purple) who describes Maangamizi – The Ancient One as « more than a movie. It is a look at how we’ve been torn at our roots; severed from nourishment at the source…. Those of us who can remember and honor who we have been over eons of time, will be able to inspire the whole world to greater heights of compassion. »

Maangamizi – The Ancient One has also received favorable reviews including most recently in The Variety (a major Hollywood industry trade paper).

« A quietly impressive drama, U.S. Tanzanian co-production « Maangamizi »…reps a rare wade into multicultural spirituality that’s neither obscure nor oversimplified… Screenplay… is unhurried yet concise in focus. Results sport significant conceptual overlap with exec producer Jonathan Demme’s Toni Morrison adaptation « Beloved. » In its smaller-scaled, less ambiguous way, « Maangamizi » locates a similar healing intersection between Westernized identity, traditional African religious belief, and regenerative matriarchal strength.

[The film’s] confident understatement a small miracle given myriad hurdles (scant location tech support, cast/crew malaria bouts, et al.) first-time feature helmer Ron Mulvihill and Tanzanian-bred vet Martin Mhando (« Yomba Yomba, » « Mama Tumaini ») weathered en route to completion.

Willie Earl Dawkins’ color lensing provide leavening visual notes; diverse soundtrack assembled and composed by Cyril Neville is another well-judged plus. » (Dennis Harvey, The Variety, 9/28/01)

Additional information can be accessed at

MAANGAMIZI – THE ANCIENT ONE represents the first creative feature project under the Gris-Gris Films banner and brought together an international cast and crew. The creation of MAANGAMIZI – THE ANCIENT ONE is the result of the collaborative vision of the filmmaking team of Ron Mulvihill, and Martin Mhando (directors/producers); Queenae Taylor Mulvihill (producer/screenwriter); and composer/musician Cyril Neville. Additionally, the support of Jonathan Demme, as Executive Producer has been essential. This unique story unites three distinctive cultures which form a drama striking in its universality.

« MAANGAMIZI – The Ancient One…is more than a movie. It is a look at how we’ve been torn at our roots; severed from nourishment at the source…Those of us who can remember and honor who we have been over eons of time, will be able to inspire the whole world to greater heights of compassion. »
Alice Walker (author)


> Best Film; Best Actress – Zanzibar International Film Festival
> Paul Robeson Award Best Feature Film – Newark Black Film Festival
> Best Actress – Southern African Film Festival
> Official Selection – 74th Academy Awards (Foreign Language Film category)
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