Liz McGrath Collection Sommelier stars in award-winning doccie ‘Blind Ambition’ to be released in SA on Friday
Zimbabwean-born Marlvin Gwese is starring in the award-winning documentary Blind Ambition, that will be released in South Africa on Friday 29 July 2022. Gwese is the Group Sommelier of the three hotels within The Liz Mcgrath Collection, which includes The Cellars-Hohenhort, The Marine and The Plettenberg in March 2021. Gwese first started as Wine Steward at the Table Bay Hotel, followed by his tenure as Sommelier at the Cape Grace Hotel and later at Greenhouse Restaurant. He graduated with a Cape Wine Academy Diploma in 2013 and has been on the judging panels of various wine competitions and makes his own wine under the Mukanya label.
Blind Ambition is the fascinating life story of Marlvin Gwese, Tinashe Nyamudoka, Pardon Taguzu and Joseph Dhafana – four refugees who escaped economically depressed Zimbabwe in search of a better life, to find their success in South Africa’s wine industry. The doccie debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2021, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. Numerous awards at various film festivals followed before the recent London premiere at the Curzon Mayfair on 16 June 2022, which was in aid of the International Rescue Committee that helps refugees all over the world.
The inspiring film will be screened at select cinemas across the country as from 29 July 2022, including the Labia theatre and Ster Kinekor at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, New Metro Hyde Park and Rosebank Nouveau in Johannesburg and Brooklyn Nouveau in Pretoria, and Ster Kinekor Gateway in Durban, as well as Ster Kinekor Sam Levy Mall in Harare, Zimbabwe.
MORE ABOUT ‘BLIND AMBITION’
Marlvin Gwese and teammates Tinashe Nyamudoka, Pardon Taguzu and Joseph Dhafana and are probably the world’s unlikeliest sommeliers. Just 10 years ago these Zimbabwean men faced destitution as inflation crippled their homeland of Zimbabwe. With no job prospects under Robert Mugabe’s regime, and unable to feed their young families, they each made a harrowing decision: to leave their home and everything they’d ever known, using their last pennies to be smuggled across the border into South Africa. But South Africa was just another battleground. Tinashe, Pardon, Joseph and Marlvin weren’t the only ones fleeing their home country – millions of Zimbabwean refugees poured into Johannesburg seeking work. The local residents resented this influx of illegal immigrants, and soon Zimbabweans were the targets of anti-foreigner riots. With nothing but the clothes on their backs, and maligned by their new community, the protagonists slept on the floor of a local church as they searched for work: grave digging, worm farming, labouring – anything they could get. But determination, faith and cast-iron work ethics saw the four men quickly excel, and soon the four heroes found better jobs in hospitality, first scrubbing dishes, then waiting tables.
But to progress past clearing plates, they needed a basic knowledge of wine, which presented multiple challenges. Because Zimbabwe had no wine industry at the time, the four men had neither heard of, nor tasted wine. Furthermore, 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 four heroes concluded that, for them, wine must be ‘God’s calling’.
Fast forward a few years and the four have emerged as the most celebrated sommeliers in Africa, working in some of the world’s most awarded restaurants. With the formation of Team Zimbabwe, Joseph, Tinashe, Pardon and Marlvin crossed the border once more as they took on one of the wine industry’s greatest challenges – The World Wine Blind Tasting Championships held in Burgundy, France in October 2017 – commonly known as the ‘Olympics of wine tasting.’
Adding to the pressure, their adventure was followed by wine lovers and experts from all around the world. When wine luminary Jancis Robinson heard their story, she set up a crowd funding campaign to raise money to get them to France. All eyes were on the four young men as they travelled to Europe to test their skills against teams from 26 other countries, including the US, Britain, France, Spain and Italy.
Featuring the vibrant music and culture of Zimbabwe, BLIND AMBITION traces their extraordinary journey from the flood plains of the Zambezi to the townships of Johannesburg. From the dramatic landscapes of the Cape to the rolling vineyards and ancient chateaux of Burgundy. Driven by relentless optimism, a passion for their craft and unshakeable national pride, team Zimbabwe set their sights on the coveted title of ‘World Wine Tasting Champions’. From the moment they arrived in France to compete, this team of mavericks turned an establishment of privilege and tradition on its head. This truly uplifting documentary celebrates just how irrepressible the human spirit can be.
About The Cellars-Hohenort
Part of the The Liz McGrath Collection, the 5-star Cellars-Hohenort hotel is situated in an area known as ‘Cape Town’s Vineyard’ – the historical Constantia Valley, a short 15-minute drive from Cape Town’s city centre. The Small Luxury Hotels of the World member features 51 elegant guest rooms and suites, and The Conservatory restaurant, which is known for taking diners on an unforgettable culinary journey. The Cellars-Hohenort is popular for celebrating weddings and special occasions, and for serving delicious picnics, as well as decadent Classic High Teas. Accommodation options include a two-bedroom Villa and the exclusive, 3-bedroom Madiba Villa. All rooms boast breath-taking views of South Africa’s iconic Table Mountain range and the hotel’s extraordinary gardens.
Tel: +27 21 794 2137
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