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Catholic missionary produces film to keep African children in school

2013-11-08

Each day brings a new struggle in many places around Africa. The situation lived in Malawi is represented in a film titled "M'Zhoteka.”  Italian priest Federico Tartaglia spent nine years as a missionary in this country ravaged by AIDS and malaria. Since his return back to Italy he has relentlessly promoted another aspect: the will to keep moving forward.

FR. FEDERICO TARTAGLIA
Screenwriter, "M'Zhoteka”
"Every person that arrives to Africa has this image of children suffering. But then they return shaken up because they find that even though the kids have no shoes or shirt, they smile, they hold your hand. They're people that have a desire to keep moving forward.”

With a limited budget director Roberto Palmerini helped Fr. Tartaglia in the making of the film. Leaving actors aside, the full-feature focuses on everyday people from Malawi that live at the St. Magdalene of Canossa mission in Mangochi, the same place where Fr. Tartaglia lived.

The film tells the fictional story of Mike, who lost both his parents to malaria. His goal is to become a doctor, to help others avoid this tragic situation. All the proceeds from the film will be used for children's education programs in the country. 

FR. FEDERICO TARTAGLIA
Screenwriter, "M'Zhoteka”
"Through this film, we're raising funds to allow our kids to go to college. Two are already there.”

On average there's one doctor for roughly 64,000 people. As a point of reference, in the United States, the ratio is one per 300. This stark contrasts is aggravated by the fact that the majority of Malawians must walk miles and miles just to see a doctor. The filmmakers hope Mike's story serves as an inspiration that will provoke change.

FR. FEDERICO TARTAGLIA
Screenwriter, "M'Zhoteka”
"Watching this film, I think there's a need for each African child to have that determination and will-power we showed off in our film, perhaps a bit too idealized. Mike has the desire to make it. He can make mistakes, he can have obstacles, but he's determined. And that's what we all need, particularly in Africa.”

Despite challenges, "M'Zhoteka” shows that just like Mike, it's possible to achieve one's dreams. Father Tartaglia's dream is to share his story and do his part in changing the world. 


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