ZIFF 2015 is proud to announce that the opening night film, to be screened at the Old Fort Ampitheatre in Stonetown, Zanzibar on July 18th will be the Golden Globe and an Academy Award Winning film SELMA.

SELMA is the ideal film to open this year’s ZIFF – as the theme- Waves and Visions of Hope is perfectly reflected in the underlying message of the film.  Festival Director, Martin Mhando explains further, “ZIFF prides itself on showcasing films with strong social messages. In 2014 we opened ZIFF with the Mandela film, Long Walk to Freedom, and we are especially proud in 2015 to open with another international film that focuses on an icon of civil and human rights, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Selma will be an inspirational way to open ZIFF 2015 and to highlight our focus on hope and social change.”

SELMA tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King and the struggle for civil rights in the USA in the 1960’s, yet the film’s themes resonate with audiences across the globe. The film also stars two actors of African descent, David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo, both Britons of Nigerian descent. The film’s universal themes of human rights and dignity have special significance for Africa, with its colonial and post-colonial struggles. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr himself likened the American civil-rights movement to liberation struggles across Africa, particularly in South Africa:

In our struggle for freedom and justice in the United States, …  we feel a powerful sense of identification with those in the far more deadly struggle for freedom in South Africa. We know how Africans there, and their friends of other races, strove for half a century to win their freedom by non-violent methods. Clearly there is much in Mississippi and Alabama to remind South Africans of their own country, yet even in Mississippi we can organise to register Negro voters, we can speak to the press, we can in short organise the people in non-violent action. But in South Africa even the mildest form of non-violent resistance meets with years of imprisonment, and leaders over many years have been restricted and silenced and imprisoned. Today great leaders – Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe – are among many hundreds wasting away in Robben Island prison.

The screening of the film on July 18th, the birthdate of Nelson Mandela will bring added significance to the event.