Zimbabwe International Film Festival was inaugurated in 1997. Three years later, its organizers created Zimbabwe International Film & Festival Trust (ZIFFT), a non-profit organization whose main aim to develop the cinema industry in Zimbabwe. ZIFFT strives to discover filmmakers, artists, and audiences. It is a non-political competitive platforms that provides a film showcase and a number of other events.
Festival programming includes a showcase of feature films, documentary films and short films, special screenings (opening night film, closing night film, retrospective screenings, screenings of foreign films), cultural events for the audience and industry events such as pitching sessions, seminars, workshops, etc.
ZIFF holds film competitions in four categories: Feature Films, Short Films, Documentary Films, and Animation Films. The jury that consists of local and international film personalities selects winning films for each category. Festival awards are bestowed in several categories, including best film (in all film categories except Animation, which has its own prize named Zimbabwe Calabash), Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Special Jury Prize, etc. There’s also the Safirio Madzikatire Lifetime Achievement Award named in honor of Zimbabwean actor, comedian and musician.
Each year, Zimbabwe International Film Festival has a new theme. For example, the ZIFF 2016 theme was “Reel, Sound and Music”. It was meant to highlight the importance of the special role of sound and music in producing high-quality and films. In 2015, the festival theme was DOCUMATION, a portmanteau of “documentary” and “animation”. It was intended to encourage Zimbabwean filmmakers to experiment with these two genres.
Zimbabwe International Film Festival is ZIFFT’s flagship program. It is designed to showcase the best films from around the world and to develop the Zimbabwean and regional film industries. However, the fund offers more programs such as Outreach2Educate (O2E), the Film Forum for local and international filmmakers, the Short Film Project, and the Innovation Hub (Zi-Hub).