Blind Ambition selected for the NYC Tribeca Film Festival

Friday, 21 May, 2021
Jean Vincent Ridon
While the movie industry has been paralysed by the closing of theatres during the pandemic, the epic adventure of four Zimbabwean sommeliers followed by Team South Africa has been selected to be screened in New York at the Tribeca Film Festival.

It all started in 2015 at the South African Wine Tasting Championships. While selecting Team South Africa, two Zimbabwean sommeliers ended up on the podium. As the competition regulations states that each team could only accept one foreign national, Joseph Dhafana's performance earned him the seat over his colleague Tawanda Marume. For the first time a Zimbabwean would be part of this world event organised by the French wine magazine Revue du Vin de France.

In 2017 the talent of the Zimbabwean tasters was shining even more, with four Zimbabwean sommeliers among the top 10 South African competitors. After a short discussion, it was decided that it was time for an independent Team Zimbabwe, with Joseph Dhafana, Marlvin Gwese, Pardon Taguzu and Tinashe Nyamudoka as its first members. Since he was already experienced at this level of the competition, Team Zimbabwe 2017 would be captained by Joseph, and would train alongside Team South Africa to prepare for the World Championship in Burgundy. For a few months the four Zim somms would taste hundreds of wines alongside Anita Streicher Nel, Anton Swarts, Jolette Steyn, Nkululeko Mkhwanazi and Jeanri Van Zyl under the coaching of Jean-Vincent Ridon.

Going to the world championship meant a lot of logistics! Money is the key not only to train with international wines, but to pay plane tickets, cover accommodation, insurance, visas, food and registration to the wine Olympics. The local support of their employers, some generous wineries and would never be enough. The solidarity of the wine industry helped the story reach Erica Platter, who spoke to Jancis Robinson. Jancis organised a public fundraiser to allow the magic four to fly to France with Team South Africa that was already supported by Nederburg, Amorim and

Jancis Robinson MW made a miracle, not only by raising money for Team Zimbabwe, she also shared her enthusiasm with another Master of Wine, Andrew Caillard from Australia, who spread the word to his friends Rob Coe and Warwick Ross. Rob and Warwick are famous filmmakers who were behind the movie “Red Obsession” in 2013.

Excited by the story of these four refugees who made their way to the South African wine industry and were now hitting the world stage, Rob and Warwick chose this beautiful story for their new movie.

Blind Ambition Movie Still

Following Team South Africa’s usual “Tour de France” before the world championship, Team Zimbabwe travelled to Champagne, Mosel, Rheingau, Alsace and Burgundy shadowed by a production team filming all the details of this life changing journey.

Neither of the teams were crowned the 2017 world champion, but the personal journeys of Joseph, Pardon, Marlvin and Tinashe are now forever recorded for all to follow and be inspired by.

The Tribeca Film Festival, managed by Robert de Niro, will be the Première appearance for this 90 minute film titled “Blind Ambition” but the production team is confident that it will soon be distributed in South Africa once all the 2020 delayed blockbusters have been released locally. An international prize would probably speed up the process so we can only wish this Australian production the best at Tribeca in June!

Everything started with the South African Wine Tasting Championship and the 2021 edition in July will be attracting many wine lovers willing to follow the steps of these four talented young men, whether they wear the South African Jersey or the Zimbabwean one! is a proud supporter of both teams

Team Zim and Team SA in France
Team Zim and Team SA in France

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