A story of hope, perseverance and destiny for four Zimbabwean men, has been captured into a 96-minute documentary that was released in cinemas today.
Co-directors, Warwick Ross and Robert Coe introduce the Cape Town-based men and their rugged journeys to becoming famous sommeliers.
Ross says the film is a rags to riches story.
“Their story is amazing, it’s a true rags to riches story from where they began to the accomplishments and success they have now reached.”
Documented over three years before the Covid-19 pandemic, Ross and his production team, Third Man Films, were unable to keep to their original release date in 2020 due to the pandemic and a lot of red tape.
“Working on this documentary for all that time and then being hit with a pandemic was rather disappointing as the lockdown hindered our ability to showcase this at the World Premiere that was supposed to be held in Cape Town in April 2020. We were well prepared and then as we neared the big day, the world was shut down,” said Ross.
“Blind Amibition” stars Tinashe Nyamudoko, Pardon Taguzu, Joseph Dhafana and Marlvin Gwese who were once strangers, met in South Africa through their passion for wine.
The true story details their journey dating back 10 years ago, when they faced destitution as inflation crippled their homeland.
With no job prospects under the then Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe’s regime, and unable to feed their young families, they each made a difficult decision to leave their home behind and use their last pennies to be smuggled across the border into South Africa.
Driven by relentless optimism, a passion for their craft and an unshakeable national pride, they formed Zimbabwe’s first wine tasting team and set their sights on the coveted title of “World Wine Tasting Champions”.
Father of three, Nyamudoko said the experience of making the film was thrilling.
“Neither of us has any experience on a film set or acting or being on TV, but we were fortunate to be ourselves and show all our emotions when we wanted to. We enjoyed filming this and hoped others are encouraged by our story.”
As nine cameras followed the group over the filming period, Ross admired their ability to cope naturally. The men went about their lives with ease and allowed the cameras to follow them while they performed their usual routines.
The film goes in-depth and physically visits the origins where each of the men stems from.
The documentary explores themes like determination, faith and cast-iron work ethics which saw the four men quickly excel and soon find better jobs in hospitality across various restaurants and hotels in Cape Town. They started off washing dishes, being waiters and then progressed to gaining the knowledge of wine.
Due to Zimbabwe having no wine industry at the time, the four men had neither heard of nor tasted wine and as Pentecostal Christians, they’d vowed never to touch alcohol, so the path to success also brought a crisis of faith.
After much discussion with their families and members of their church, the men concluded that, for them, wine must be “God’s calling”.
The film takes viewers to France, where the men compete in a “World Wine Blind Tasting Championship” commonly known as the “Olympics of wine tasting”.
Ross added: “We hope people receive this film well and come out to watch it in cinemas, we know documentaries don’t draw crowds to a cinema but we have faith that this one will spread a message and encourage people to support it.”