No longer is a festival about a place alone, but a festival is also about its creative structures, its sustainability as well as its contribution to the multi-colored garden of world cinema.


Each year, some of the most captivating and cutting-edge cinema from Africa and beyond is screened in venues across the island. From world-premiers to local shorts, we’ve got it all, with a long history of showcasing the highest quality film from all over the world.

The Festival aims to raise awareness and promote international cinema as art, entertainment and as an industry, promoting dialogue, human rights and freedom. Through its programmes the festival reaches wide audiences normally not commonly the focus of film festivals, and there is that is the ZIFF difference.  Through its Women, Children and Village Panoramas, its Music and Art Platform, its Public Forums and Outreach screenings, retrospectives and tributes, the festival makes a huge contribution towards a better understanding of cinema.

This year has meant a smaller program, colored by the pandemic and the late decision to hold the festival, which nonetheless will have an enormous impact on the festival’s purveyors and audiences. The festival will have both Online and Onset platforms (commonly known as hybrid). These co-supportive platforms mean bigger audiences and reach as well an opportunity to redefine festivals.

Festival of Festivals

From the beginning ZIFF has been also built as a platform for reaching out to communities through film and the arts. As with this year’s theme “Sharing Our Heritage” we also share the ZIFF platform with other NGOs, Government and Development Partners to reach audiences that would normally be sidelined or reached poorly. Through the use of film we are able to impact more effectively audiences that we interact with during the festival and beyond. This year we shall also share the platform with fellow festival of worth.

With Elles Tournent of Belgium we shall collaborate to bring workshops that advocate for gender equity through looking at the place of the woman in the film industry value chain in Europe and Africa. The Delegation of the European Union to Tanzania will also share the ZIFF platform to engage with filmmakers, creative industries and various communities in the country through utilizing the power of film.

With Native Voices of Uganda we share the ZIFF platform as a training tool. As the Festival Director of Native Voices Sarah Kizza Nsigaye says, “The knowledge and exposure that comes with being part of the biggest cultural event in the regional will not only enhance their personal career path, it will compliment Native Voices festival organizing growth.”


A Zanzibar institution, ZIFF is a truly local festival, with exhibitions, workshops, and cultural tours that take you to the heart of the community. We promote local talent in film and music, showcasing new and old creative achievements. As ZIFF comes to town, so too do opportunities for recognising arts and crafts – the festival is always a hotbed of activity!
Through the Outreach Community Film Screenings we are able to discuss issues of concern to us all as inhabitants of earth including Freedom, the value of Culture and of course the Environment.

Difficult Dialogues

In 2011 we formed a new program called Difficult Dialogues to encourage freedom of speech and dialogue in community. This Public Forum has had immense impact on Zanzibar allowing for the exchange of knowledge and experiences on subjects that usually are not talked about easily and in the open.

Difficult Dialogues aims to provide the community with a public forum to air views to challenging social issues. ZIFF seeks to influence political outcomes by mobilizing citizens who are not political insiders to take actions that generate public attention around specific issues or demands, usually through generating media coverage.

Difficult Dialogues seeks to generate a feedback loop where the issues discussed draw attention and greater participation of more stakeholders than before, leading to further activity and attention.
This is a creatively managed public forum structured in the form of a TV Talk Show where invited speakers will discuss the topic at hand, debate the merits of the issue and then allow the public to voice their views and concerns. The event is managed by a capable Facilitator able to conduct a national debate on the topic. Structurally the Talk Show style also involves the discussion teaser opening and two live music performances adding to the creative and entertainment ethos of the format.