The Zanzibar International Film Festival 2014 kicked off in true Zanzibari style on Saturday June 14th with the arrival at The Old Fort of the Opening Parade – “United Against Gender Based Violence,” followed by a glamorous and celebrity filled launch event and concert.
The first two days of ZIFF screenings have been hugely successful with already nearly 40 screenings taking place. As usual, the evening screenings in the Old Fort Ampitheatre are the most popular with two nights nearly filled to capacity. Sunday night saw the screening of Mother of George, a powerful film that addresses the serious issues of men’s infertility. Due to the requirements of the Zanzibar Censor Board, certain scenes had to be blocked, which was not appreciated by the vocal audience on the night. Unfortunately, this kind of censorship will affect at least 2 more ZIFF screenings this year.
Festival Director Martin Mhando explains “ZIFF is in favour of freedom of expression. Our screening of these films with the required blocking of scenes is the purest expression of conservative censorship which ZIFF deplores.”
Monday night saw a full house for the family friendly Khumba, an animated feature film from South Africa.
Already ZIFF has welcomed a number of filmmakers including David Cecil (Uganda / UK)– Bye Bye Mzungu, Richard Pakleppa (Namibia) – A Taste of Rain, Aneili Kihunrwa (Tanzania) – Duduku, Hughes Gentillon (Haiti) – Love Me Haiti, Ella Lilian Mutuyinana – (Rwanda) Motorbike Fear / Strength in Fear & Sean Hodgkinson (Trinidad & Tobego) – A Story About Wendy 2. On Sunday, South African actress Terry Pheto also took part in the Mandela Legacy discussion which was a lively debate chaired by filmmaker and head of the HRMC in South Africa, Shirley Gunn. Pheto, who played Mandela’s first wife Evelyn in the film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom expressed her joy at attending the event and the fact that the film officially opened the festival.
The MAISHA Film lab also concluded this week with 15 filmmakers from across East Africa being trained in a variety of skills. The Mambo Club has also been the place to party into the night with Malawi’s Body, Mind & Soul kicking things off on Saturday night accompanied by Puetro Rica/ USA DJ Kaka Kahlil. Monday night featured Kenya’s Sauti Sol in a massive party that carried on late into the night. Highlights of the music programme still to come include Grace Matata on Thursday night and the hugely popular J Martin from Nigeria to close the festival on the 22nd. This year, ZIFF has made buying tickets to these and other events via online payment. All evening concert event tickets can be purchased in advance conveniently via 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 www.ziff.or.tz .