A film by Amil Shivji
Drama, 90min, color.

© Big World Cinema / Kijiweni Productions / NiKo Film

Funded by: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, World Cinema Fund, Wanene Entertainment, M-Net, Copperlake Holdings, TSAR, Beaver Bay Investments



Vuta N’Kuvute (Tug of War) based on Adam Shafi’s award-winning Swahili novel, is a coming-of-age political drama about love and resistance set in the final years of British colonial Zanzibar. The film weaves through 1950s coastal culture across the divides of class and racial segregation that were imposed by the colonial regime. Denge, a frustrated and rebellious Zanzibari young man who is part of the freedom struggle against British rule meets Yasmin, a recent runaway Indian-Zanzibari bride whose equal rebelliousness drives her to seek her own independence. Their romantic but forlorn relationship is coupled with the daily struggles of finding their place in the resistance movements for independence.    


Gudrun Columbus Mwanyika, Ikhlas Gafur Vora, Siti Amina



Steven Markovitz & Amil Shivji

Executive Producers

Neil Tabatznik & Lucinde Englehart


Tamsin Ranger & Nicole Gerhards


Amil Shivji


Amil Shivji & Jenna Bass

Production Manager

Cindy K., Kate Mumbua, & Edwin Kariuki


Zenn Van Zyl


Nadia Ben Rachid & Mathew Swanepoel

Original Sound

Frederic Salles

Production Design

Emilia Roux & Eliudi Mwanyika

Costume Design

Hawa Ally

Festivals and Awards 

Zanzibar International Film Festival 2022 (Tanzania) - Opening Film 
Centrepiece Film New York African Film Festival 2022 (USA) 
Seattle International Film Festival 2022 (USA) - Winner Special Jury Prize 
Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2022 (USA) 
Palm Springs International Film Festival 2022 - Nominated New Voices/New Visions Grand Jury Prize 
Toronto International Film Festival 2021
Toronto Black Film Festival 

Winner Doha Film Institute Post Production Fund Spring 2020


“Tug of War” is the first period drama in the history of the nascent Tanzanian film industry. It explores a little-known chapter in the archipelago evocatively referred to as the “Spice Islands,” whose white-sand beaches and UNESCO World Heritage Stone Town — among the top tourist attractions on the continent — paint an image of an island idyll frozen in time." Variety, Sept. 2021