ZIFF's dynamic leadership shift: a story of transformation

Zanzibar. In a whirlwind of change, the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) has seen the appointment and removal of a festival top leader, followed swiftly by the appointment of new leaders, all within the span of just six months.

Following the resignation of Prof Martin Mhando last year, the festival introduced acclaimed Tanzanian film director Amil Shivji as the new festival director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on October 1, 2023.

Shivji expressed his vision of enhancing accessibility to ZIFF for the Tanzanian public and fostering the growth of the local cinema industry.

However, before his plans could materialise, on March 15, 2024, the festival unveiled Joseph Mwale as the CEO and Hatibu Madudu as the new festival director, replacing Shivji.

In an exclusive interview with The Citizen, Shivji revealed his reasons for resigning earlier in the year.

"I handed in my resignation at the beginning of the year due to irreconcilable differences with the board of directors and a lack of transparency during the handover process," he explained without revealing further details.

Former ZIFF CEO, Professor Martin Mhando, corroborated Shivji's resignation, attributing it to personal reasons.

He said, "Shivji resigned from his job in January for personal reasons and the board approved his decision. I have confidence in the new leadership, and like Shivji, their youthfulness will bring about progressive changes in ZIFF."

According to a press release from ZIFF, the appointment of Mr Mwale as the new CEO signifies a milestone, as he becomes the first Zanzibari to head ZIFF after serving the festival as marketing manager for 15 years.

Meanwhile, Mr Madudu, the newly appointed festival director, is an award-winning filmmaker who previously served as ZIFF's assistant festival director under Professor Mhando's mentorship.

ZIFF has played a pivotal role in showcasing the growth of the local film industry, with Tanzanian-directed and produced films winning accolades in recent years.

Films such as "Binti" by Seko Shamte (2021), "Vuta N'Kuvute" by Amil Shivji (2022), and "Eonii" by Eddie Mzale (2023) have garnered international recognition and secured distribution deals with platforms like Netflix. "Eonii" is being screened on Emirates flights, underscoring the quality of Tanzanian cinema.

As ZIFF embraces its new leadership, anticipation grows for the exciting developments and ground-breaking initiatives that lie ahead, promising to elevate Tanzanian cinema to even greater heights on the global stage.