Blind Ambition

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Marlvin Gwese is Blind Ambition.
Marlvin Gwese is Blind Ambition.
Photo: YouTube/Screengrab


Blind Ambition


DStv Box Office


4.5/5 Stars


Having escaped starvation and tyranny in their homeland of Zimbabwe, four refugees have conquered the odds to become South Africa's top sommeliers. Driven by relentless optimism, a passion for their craft and unshakeable national pride, they form Zimbabwe's first-ever wine tasting team and set their sights on the coveted title of 'World Wine Tasting Champions'. From the moment they arrive in France to compete, this team of mavericks turns an establishment of privilege and tradition on its head. A truly uplifting documentary that celebrates just how irrepressible the human spirit can be.


What do you get when you add a team of four Zimbabwean refugees turned sommeliers, an international wine competition and two coaches who seem to be frenemies? A really good documentary.

Tinashe Nyamukoka, Pardon Taguzu, Joseph Dhafana and Marlvin Gwese knew nothing about wine when they came to South Africa, but now they're some of SA's top sommeliers and have formed Team Zimbabwe to go to the international Wine Tasting Championships in France. Through a series of interviews with each of these four men, as well as heartbreaking news footage, we learn to what extent they went to in order to be smuggled across the border and make a new life in a new country so that they could feed their families.

The film highlights the struggles of refugees and how many of them have to start completely fresh when they enter SA as they cannot find jobs in the same fields they were in at home. It shows the harrowing journeys many have taken to make a new life for themselves, leaving behind everything they know, often leaving their children and families to hopefully make it alive and cross the border.

It's by no means an easy feat, but this is the story of hundreds of thousands of refugees that don't get highlighted often enough.

"Our journey is actually tattooed in our brains and in our hearts," says Joseph in the film.

The filmmaking and storytelling is simplistic, but in the best way so as not to overpower an incredible story that is even bigger than the four stars. Tinashe, Pardon, Joseph and Marlvin are charming, charismatic and fun. They make themselves vulnerable to the camera in a way that is incredibly touching and genuine. They all also have a great sense of humour and incredible pride in their home country that will have you rooting for them in a heartbeat.

But these four are not the only characters in this film. Jean Vincent Ridon, the coach for Team South Africa, and Denis Garret, the coach for Team Zimbabwe, add their own special touch to Blind Ambition. The pair have been friends for many years and obviously care for each other, but they also each have their own egos, which make for some great laughs and a little bit of drama.

You don't need to know anything about wine in order to enjoy this film, but you do want to pay attention as it all seems to happen so quickly. While triumphs and feats of Team Zimbabwe will have you rapt with attention, it does feel like 96 minutes is too short a time to get to know everything about this story properly.

While I personally love the film, I do think it could have been great as a mini-series so that we could get more of JV and Denis' antics or watch the team bond together or learn a bit more about wine.

If you need a bit of a cry, some laughs and a hopeful, happy ending from a movie, then Blind Ambition is a must-watch. 


Blind Ambition is available to rent on DStv Box Office.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.