Zanzibar International Film Festival

Zanzibar International Film Festival
The Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), also referred to as the Festival of the Dhow Countries, is an annual film festival that takes place in Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania located on the Zanzibar Archipelago. It is considered the largest film, music and arts festival in East Africa that brings together new talents from all over the world.

The Zanzibar International Film Festival was founded in 1997. It is a non-governmental organization that aims to promote cinema and other forms on art in order to catalyze the social and economic growth of the region. Although cinema is the main focus of the festival, ZIFF is a multi-disciplinary cultural event that encompasses music, visual art, and other art forms.

Each edition of the Zanzibar Film Festival has a theme that is taken into consideration during the film selection process. For example, the 2017 theme was “Finding Joy – Kusikia Furaha”. Regardless of the theme, ZIFF presents a rich and diverse program of films from all over the world – from international premieres to local short films – but a special focus is placed on films made in East African countries.

The Zanzibar International Film Festival lasts for 10 days packed with exciting events and activities. Its program includes film competition, out-of-competition screenings, cinema workshops, music concerts, parties, exhibitions, special programs, networking events, educational events, and more. The festival culminates with an awards ceremony held on the last evening.

ZIFF gives out about a dozen international awards presented by five international juries. The competition is open to films made in the so-called dhow countries. Dhow is a generic name of traditional sailing vessels with lateen sails used by the peoples of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, East Africa, Yemen and coastal South Asia (India and Pakistan). ZIFF’s main award is the Golden Dhow for Best Film. Other awards include the Silver Dhow, the ZIFF Jury Award, the ZIFF Chairman Award, the East Africa Talent Award, and more.

Most festival events are held in Stone Town (also known as Mji Mkongwe), the old part of Zanzibar City. Besides, there are special screenings in local villages.

Zanzibar International Film Festival

Photo: Zanzibar International Film Festival / Peter Bennet




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