Films come front and centre at the 2021 Zanzibar Film Fest

Friday July 23 2021
Ziff pic

Zanzibar. There was no doubt that ‘Binti Film’ was the ideal film to open the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) this year as organizers elbow for women space and children in the film, music, workshops and visual arts industry.

Ziff’s comeback braces an equality movement as its showcasing and film screening was cancelled last year due to the global pandemic holdups, trying to make it up by making more room for inclusiveness and more of ‘family time’ still with precautionary measures for the pandemic.

The opening film, Binti, is a Tanzanian Swahili-made film made by women for women from women’s poetic viewpoint.

Binti is a contemporary view of womanhood, a searing introspection into the sometimes- painful world that any woman anywhere could find themselves in. As the movie screened, the audience was all participatory, trying to cheer up characters inside the film that were present at the Old Fort.

“Relax! Hold on! Go girl” was heard from time to time with “Oh nooo!” and few laughs from here and there from the audience reactions.

I too left the premises filled with emotions, I felt seen and appreciated for what it takes to be a working woman, sister, wife and a mother and all the struggles that come in between. I left determined to do things different or better when met with a sometime-painful situation like some of the characters in Binti - in anutshell, the film was relatable. On top of that, it was a good screening with such a nice and engaging audience


Men too related to some of the male characters in the film.

“It is these moments that make cinemas such an important tool for world cultures and Ziff is here to encapsulate it,” says Aisha Mussa, event curator and vibrant festival manager of Ziff.

But that was only the official launch of the 24th edition of Ziff popularly known as the festival of the Dhow Countries.

Festivities started around noon, with music and dancing at the opening garden near the food marketplace, Forodhan.

There haven’t been anything celebratory last couple of months but Zanzibar International Film festival (Ziff) brought the mood back. The festival was almost cancelled but the Isle government and the Ziff management decided to give people a chance to share the heritage that the country and the festival has to offer, as well as the beauty of cinema and a hold of festival amidst a third wave spread of the pandemic.

“We couldn’t think of a more important idea to tour around the Isle than an opportunity to once again share the power and joy of cinema in theatres together,” says a woman from Burundi, who was accompanied by five of her friends.

Stone Town streets were all filled with celebratory cheers, as revelers kept on flocking to Forodhan Garden for dancing, feasting and chilling.

Ziff makes both local and international revelers come together to embrace and share their cultures and heritage through film, music, visual arts and so much more despite the woes of the global pandemic.

Good sound, melody and rhymes always get people in high spirit considering the film festival started during Eid celebrations, revelers are already in the lookout for partying, cheering.

Children’s dancing programmewas splendid as it gathered children in Stone Town Streets and tourists at the evening food market Forodhan, for a few hours of dancing, singing and enjoying good melody from the country’s music before the official opening.

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Themed ‘sharing our heritage,’ Ziff is one of the highlights of Tanzania’s Archipelago’s culture calendar with thousands of film, music and visual arts fans flocking the Isle every year. For 5 days till July 25, filmmakers, film and visual arts lovers, tourists and other revelers gather to celebrate film, music, culture and the spirit of Zanzibar itself.

With films from more than 30 countries, local films lead the continent with more creative works that are being screened, other films from Africa include nine from Kenya and six from South Africa. Film screening is happening in different venues across the Zanzibar Island from local to world-premiere, an essential piece to capture and cutting edge cinema from Africa.

In order to cater for the covid-19 protocols, there are two cinema venues, one at Old Fort and the other at Mambo Club. This year’s audience are treated to more documentaries and movie screening is happening in open-air space venues

Old Fort grounds are busy with sounds, music, workshops, and festivities from the festival. Children workshops take place at the Forodhan garden and later on the children join the audience for a family film screening from 4pm to 6pm in the evening.

Women workshops involve short films and animation screening in Nungwi, Paje, Jambiani and Makunduchi.