The Zanzibar International film Festival will be celebrating its 17th Edition 14th June 2014. This edition will be marked by a number of impressive activities that also foreshadow the great potential that the festival has. It has been also confirmed that the Oscar nominated film Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom will be the opening film of the festival with some of the top stars from South Africa attending the opening ceremony.

“79 films will be screened in the 10-day festival foregrounding films from Africa and the Dhow countries and spiced up by award winning film from international film festivals.’ says the Festival Director Professor Martin Mhando adding, “The films come from 35 countries with 38 short films, 23 feature length films and 18 documentaries.” Commenting on the event Sponsorship, Richard Alden, Zuku CEO noted that,, “The festival is an expression of Zanzibar’s historical link with cinema as well as highlighting the festival’s long‐standing commitment to joining filmmakers and local audiences together to experience cinema in a country where all cinema theatres were closed in the 1990s”.

The announced festival program has an exciting schedule consisting of musical and exhibition components as well as the film outreach program called the Panoramas.  Over 2000 school children congregate to watch films and discuss them in the Children Panorama partly sponsored by the Save the Children Zanzibar. This year the core discussions will be around the environment with the theme “a safe environment” encompassing protection, the law and awareness.

Music-wise the festival will feature 13 performing groups with Didier Award, the Senegalese maestro performing on the opening night on 14th  June. Groups from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa are scheduled to entice audiences over the 9 nights of the festival.

An exhibition from France, the Tryptic by Les 7 Portes/Sisygambis will be on offer for 7 days of the festival while popular art and fashion exhibition Afrika Tumefika from Uganda will also be featured. “Over two dozen filmmakers from around the world presenting their works will also be in attendance taking part in workshops, networking events and film pitching contest,” said the festival director adding, “A special Script writing workshop to be facilitated by UK’s top film makers Special Guest Director Nick Broomfield (Big and Tupac) and Marc Hoerferlin (Albino United) will also be held.” “This workshop is especially funded by ZUKU TV which is looking for submissions for feature-length Swahili films for broadcast on ZUKU Swahili Movies, which is a premium movie channel tailor-made for audiences within East African”, added Alden. Priding itself on the quality of its output, the channel seeks to respond to strong consumer demand for Africa-produced and Africa-themed programming.

Other workshops also include a Scriptwriting workshop in Kiswahili that will be organized by the Maisha Lab of Uganda. Maisha Film Lab founded by the renowned filmmaker, Mira Nair, is a training initiative for emerging East African filmmakers providing hands-on intensives in screenwriting, directing, producing, cinematography, editing and sound recording. Maisha screenwriting lab is made possible by the financial contribution of the European Development Fund with the assistance of ACP Group of Countries. A $2,000 reward for the best script will be given at the end of the lab to produce the film within three months. Another workshop will be a film production Workshop for East African filmmakers to be sponsored by the East African Community in partnership with the German International cooperation Agency GIZ. This workshop follows the birth of the East African film Network, a regional organization of film festivals, policy makers and industry stakeholders.

“This year we welcome the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, ARTerial Network and Steps International to ZIFF”, said Prof Mhando adding, “As one of the largest political education institutions in Germany today, the Foundation is committed to the mainstream ideology of democratic socialism, and it will support discussion forums for critical thought and political alternatives during ZIFF 2014,” The Foundation’s will also organise an exhibition on the theme “Natural Resources – Blessing or Curse?” discussing how people’s lives have changed through land grabbing, mining and forced migration.

The ARTerial Network will organize a Forum aimed at mapping and monitoring the state of freedom of expression for artists in Africa. It will involve a weeklong training programme for 20 coordinators selected from around the continent who will then return to implement programmes in their own regions. The initial training of these coordinators, organised with Swedish Foundation for Human Rights, will take place during ZIFF 2014. Steps International is a non-profit organisation based in Denmark with offices in South Africa and Denmark. Steps will be providing films in the international acclaimed Why Poverty? series for circulation in villages in Zanzibar and Pemba.

To ensure that visitors are able to get their tickets in time and conveniently ZIFF has entered into an agreement with 3G Directpay, which will provide with the online payment service for the nine-day bounty of special programming and festivities. Passes will be available for purchase at