Classic Rock’s New Friends: Our Review of ‘WITCH: We Intend To Cause Havoc’

Posted in by - September 15, 2022
Classic Rock’s New Friends: Our Review of ‘WITCH: We Intend To Cause Havoc’

It’s difficult to write about both Gio Arlotta’s WITCH: We Intend To Cause Havoc as well as the few pieces of criticism about the documentary. Those pieces always begin with the writer’s surprise about the rock music scene in 1970s Zambia. I’m someone who came from a developing country. And I’m sure there’s a lot of music from my country that people in the ugh, global north would feel the same shock about. But also, as someone not from Zambia, this information is at least illuminating. I can only imagine the day when the titular Zambian rock band’s vinyl came across Arlotta and his two musician friends, Jacco Gardner and Nic Mauskovic. The music (more popular on Spotify than Soundcloud) is good enough for the three to go to Zambia and piece together the band’s obscure history.

Most of the WITCH’s members are dead, passing on due to the AIDS crisis that affected Africa as a whole. The Zamrock band’s two surviving members are Emanyeo “Jagari” Chanda and Patrick Mwondela. Disclaimer: they never were in the band together during the group’s first run. WITCH focuses on Chanda more but in fairness, he does have a compelling story. As a young adult, he was Zambia’s Mick Jagger. However, he eventually quit music and by 2012, when Arlotta and his friends came over to Zambia looking for him, he was working as an amethyst miner. The documentary then goes through the important parts of his past and present. One topic includes him joining the church of his unlikely wife. His wife is a second generation pastor who defends his calling despite of his occupation being controversial within the congregation. Fortunately, the film handles Chanda’s struggle with religion with sensitivity.

WITCH‘s transition from its second to its third act is when some of its issues arise. Like every rockumentary from the late 20th century, it treats disco as a boogeyman. Even though yes, it backtracks from than by highlighting Mwondela’s involvement during the band’s past and present incarnation. And of course, there’s the ‘I can’t believe Zambia had a rock scene’ sentiment. One of the white interviewees goes on about that a bit.

Lastly, focusing on Chanda and Mwondela negates the contributions of some of the other original band members, some of whom are women. But then its choice to focus on the two are understandable. After going through those topics, the documentary then shows both original members touring Gardner and Mauskovic. The same ones who looked for them. Somehow this comes across well, as both these musicians and the film show, for the most part, respect for these two figures.

WITCH comes to OVID on September 15, 2022.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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