inleiding Burkina Faso

Networking during ZIFF reinforces African Film

Africa has a number of prominent film festivals. Fespaco in Burkina Faso and the Cape Town World Cinema Festival in South Africa, for example. In Eastern Africa, the Zanzibar International Film Festival is the largest festival. This year it was held from 25 June to 4 July 2004. A report.

Optimistic visions of the future and harsh reality continually clashed during the seventh Zanzibar International Filmfestival (ZIFF) in 2004. In a heavenly setting, it must be said. Because the island of Zanzibar is a visual delight. The sound of live music and the delicious smell of sizzling fish on the barbecues along the Indian Ocean were enjoyed on the warm nights of the festival.

This pleasant atmosphere is in stark contrast with the conditions in which film makers in Africa have to work. There are hardly any film academies, and reliable distribution channels are few and far between. Add this to the ignorance of the potential audiences, a usually non-cooperative government, a lack of good professionals, and of course the chronic general lack of means, and you are faced with a particularly troublesome film climate.

During the ZIFF the harsh reality is never far away. From time to time, the organisation leaves a lot to be desired. A brilliant film is about to start, but the subtitles are wrong. Or your film is not shown at the appointed time. Or the image on the screen wobbles.

Fortunately it was not all sorrow and misery on the shore of the Indian Ocean. The atmosphere of the festival was optimistic and cheerful, and some wonderful, important films were shown. Such as 'Keepers of Memory' for example, by the Rwandan director Eric Kabera. He made a personal film allowing the victims of the genocide to speak. His film deservedly won the audience award.

The tongues were also loosened by two documentaries from South Africa. With 'Hot Wax', film maker Andres Spitz created a wonderful portrait of Ivy, a big, bossy owner of a beauty parlor. This enormous lady welcomes rich, white women on a daily basis. She has developed close friendships with them and shares life's joys and sorrows with them in the new South Africa. 'Being Pavarotti' by Odette Geldenhuys was also shown. This documentary is about four black boys aged 13, 14 who sing opera music and move heaven and earth to become professional opera singers. Both films offer a convincing image of contemporary South Africa.

All in all, over a hundred films were shown in two locations. Apart from feature films, short films, documentaries and animation films were also included in the programme.

Festival director Imruh Bakari: ‘ZIFF is a meeting place for film makers. It is my objective to bring about new ideas and cooperation. New networks reinforce African film. And that is our ultimate goal. Furthermore, I believe that in Africa we need to develop a stronger awareness of our own culture. Film and documentary are ideal means to obtain a stronger self-image.'

The ZIFF is one of the partners of the Prince Claus Fund. Other Dutch funding bodies are Hivos and the Jan Vrijman Fund.

Links to film festivals in Africa:

Film festival Tanzania

Film festival Burkina Faso

Film festival Oeganda

Film festival South Africa

Film: Keepers of Memory

Festival director Imruh Bakari