The 18th annual Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF) last month was a huge success.
Hosted from 1 to 8 October at the ZIFF Offices in Kensington, Ster-Kinekor Borrowdale and four high density communities, the festival had a remarkable turnout estimated at over 5,000. Some events, like the film premier of Escape, were so well-attended that a second cinema had to be opened to screen the much-hyped local feature film.
Elton Mjanana, who took over this year as festival director, said, “This year the festival had the least amount of money it’s ever had. But its outreach was big, its turnout was big, and it resonated with the film community in a big way as well.” Mjanana added that this was because of ZIFF’s deliberate plan to be relevant to the audience and the industry this year.
Partnering with the Japanese Embassy, ZIFF screened in four high density communities: Epworth, Mufakose, Dzivarasekwa, and Chitungwiza as part of their outreach program. “Obviously we would want to show in every single high density community in Harare, but as you know, that would cost a lot,” said Mjanana. “We cannot screen in ten ghettos every a year, but in the four that we were in this year, we made sure we made an impact.”
This year the festival screened the highest number of local films since its inception. “We showed 23 local films – up from 12 last year,” said Mjanana. Another notable improvement at ZIFF 2016 was involving young film makers in the running of the festival. “I have been part of the festival for some time, learning the ropes so that when I took over, it was a smooth transition,” said Mjanana. He applauded the ZIFF Trust for this initiative.
ZIFF executive director Nigel Munyati said young film makers will also be included in the ZIFF Trust board. “We look forward to having more young blood involved so that we can open up space for new ideas and growth as a festival,” he said. In line with the 2016 theme Reel, Sound and Music, ZIFF also held a number of workshops as part of their Film Forum. Working with Musica Festival and Music Crossroads Academy, ZIFF hosted a “Music Speaks” workshop with musicians and filmmakers. Headlining these workshops was renowned Zimbabwean music video director, Tatenda Jarema who has worked with world stars such as Awilo Longoma, Beyonce, and Nicki Minaj among others.
Mjanana has big plans for the festival next year. “I want to take Zimbabwe to the global stage where our film industry belongs. This year was good, but we can be better. Despite this success there are still a lot we need to improve.”
Image: The screening of Zimbabwean film ‘Escape’ at ZIFF this year was a huge success. The film was directed and produced by Agnieszka Piotrowska (left) and starred lead actor Jose Marques (right) and Charmaine Mujeri (far right) photographed at the film’s premiere last month.
Image Credit: Harry Davies