This week sees the opening of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival & Trust (ZIFFT), running under the theme "Narratives from Africa". Coming in the wake of a disputed election, it could be just the escape and entertainment many Zimbabweans need.
The festival was started in 1997 by Nakai Matema , now Executive Director of ZIFFT.
"On show will be 50 films from Zimbabwe and around the world,” she says, “as well as film workshops held in the Kensington suburb of Harare. Films to be screened will have an Afrocentric feel in line with the year’s theme. Seven full length local movies will be premiered and admission to all shows and workshops will be free of charge''.
Quite a number of films were submitted by local film makers, and the selection team had a hard time trimming the number because of their high quality, according to Privilege Kandi, the PR for the event.
“We are overwhelmed by the response of the public, we didn’t expect to see that many people for the first day when we premiered a local film called The Cook Off directed by Tomas Brickhill”, said Ms. Kandi.
Tomas Brickhill spoke to 7DNews about his film. “The story is about a girl who loves cooking and enters a cooking competition without formal training. The movie was inspired by the local cooking competition, Battle of the Chefs”. Another local film on show is award winning film Kushata Kwemoyo – “evil heart” directed by Shem Zemura.
One of the partners of ZIFFT is DOK.fest from Germany: “ DOK.fest is a documentary film festival and we have been working with the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust for the past 5 years, exchanging films and expertise. This year we brought the film Global Family because we really liked the film and it’s in line with the festival’s Narratives from Africa theme.”
Global Family is a documentary which follows the lives of a Somali footballer based in Germany, his brother in Italy and their mother in Ethiopia. The award winning 90-minute-long documentary was going to be screened for the first time on the African continent at ZIFFT.
The director of Global Family, Melanie Andernach, says “this film took us 4 years to make. We were inspired by the plight of refugees but there were so many stories about the arrival of migrants that we wanted to try something different by focusing on migrants who were already in the receiving country. It did take some time to find the Somali protagonist Sash. We were not focusing on economic refugees but those from war torn countries.”
Film in Zimbabwe faces many including the high cost of production and piracy. Some cinemas have closed because of small audiences while disputes over money between the sole national broadcaster ZTV and filmmakers have affected the quality and longevity of productions.