It is around that time again when the world of cinema descends on Zanzibar for the annual Zanzibar International Film Festival at the Ngome Kongwe Amphitheatre in Stone Town.
The mood in the legendary Stone Town can be described as expectant and as revellers arrive, taxi drivers at the port very keen to be of help to first timers.
At the Ngome Kongwe’s, where the opening ceremony is set to take place, organisers were by last night making last minute touches to little details such as accreditation and ticketing.
Also famed as ‘the festival of festivals’, it will be graced by a number of impressive activities including music performances with celebrities, filmmakers, and actors
Running under the theme ‘Speak Up Be Heard’ the festival kicks off for the second time with a local film Bashasha.
Every year the Zanzibar International Film Festival bestows the honour of the Opening Night film on a new and noteworthy African film, like many other films before, Bahasha is set for its World Premiere at on this stage.
The film was the directed by Jordan Riber and featured some of Tanzania’s most talented actors including Ayoub Bombwe, Godliver Gordian, Omary Mrisho and Catherine Credo. “I am very excited and honored that Bahasha has been selected as the opening film for one of Africa’s most important film festivals. I am proud to be a part of the Tanzanian film industry at such an exciting time. The talent of Tanzanian actors and film crew has been so well showcased over the last few years, and I see a bright future in filmmaking for Tanzania.
Ayoub, Godliver, Catherine and Omary are all world-class actors and their work in Bahasha is something that will no doubt make Tanzania proud.”
Bahasha is the story of an elected public official who betrays his family, friends and community when he takes an easy bribe. He learns the hard way and must now find the road to redemption.
Music and performing arts
Despite having come under criticism for musical performances ZIFF has of the years modeled itself as a feast of films, exhibitions – and also music!
In partnership with Trace Music, this year ZIFF celebrates East Africa’s music with an array of local artistes on stage every night after the viewing of films.
Building on the success of the 2017 edition of the East African Music Video that was ultimately taken home by Eddy Kenzo of Uganda, the 2018 edition of the awards has heated up –with the competition winner to be announced at ZIFF on July 14th.
A short list of 20 nominees is listed below, which will be narrowed down to three before the ultimate winner is announced at ZIFF on the Awards Night, July 14th 2018.
To celebrate these awards and the best in East African music talent, Trace Mziki and ZIFF, in partnership with Kilimanjaro and Jack Daniels have come up with a hot line-up of live music and performances.
The exciting line-up includes Darasa Classic - a leading Hip Hop artiste in TZ and indeed East Africa, who will be launching two new studio tracks, performing them for the first time at ZIFF. This promises to be a powerful and emotional performance as the track pays tribute to his daughter.
Also in the line-up of events is East Africa’s King Empire record label that will field their wide array of artists including Aslay, Shetta, Rubi, and the Maffick .
The nine-day event will also be graced by East Africa’s finest decks man DJ Ricky Mfalme who will be playing each night to support the main acts from the opening to closing of ZIFF supported by Zanzibar’s eclectic DJ Cartel.
Trace Mziki and ZIFF will also host the African premiere of the Broadway show – direct from New York. This will be a first in Zanzibar and the region.
South Africa Day
The festival this year has dedicated a special day for South African films which according to organisers will be a tribute to Winnie Mandela.
The South African High Commissioner to Tanzania, Thami Mseleku, will be in attendance along with other dignitaries from the Zanzibar government and has this to say of the event.
“The South African government is in full support of the screening of “Winnie” at ZIFF 2018. We looking forward to having more South African film in Zanzibar to create a platform for education, dialogue, and discussion,” he says
He adds: We also would like to extend an invitation to Zanzibar to attend our Durban Film Festival in an effort to exchange ideas and depict our shared liberation history. It is the pleasure of the South Africa High Commission to be part of this cultural exchange and we commend your continued drive to have an avenue to tell our African stories in Film. ZIFF can count on our support in future festival dates.
According to festival director Fabrizio Colombo the day offers an insight in liberation struggle of the South African people with the screening of Winnie and Laugh out Loud with
“ZIFF has always celebrated and given importance to liberation movements, and the struggle for freedom that South Africa has embodied through historical figures like Nelson and Winnie Mandela. ZIFF 2018’s theme about speaking out for truth, freedom, and justice finds in the South Africa Day its best fulfilment and a wonderful way to close the 2018 edition of the Festival,” he says.
The festival is ranked among the world’s top 100 film festivals and is an annual gathering for film industry stakeholders, filmmakers and film students, with ZIFF being considered a key launching pad for East and Central African films.