2021 Festival Highlights

The 21st edition of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF) was a memorable four-day fiesta of film screenings, presentations, panel discussions and workshops.

Under the theme “Owning Our Story”, the festival was run online for the first time in the festival’s history, with restricted numbers at physical gatherings, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite adjusting to this new format, festival events were successful and enjoyable, with rich and engaging conversations on developments on the local film scene.

Here’s a sum-up of everything that happened, with links to catch up on what you missed by watching the video recordings of the events (and a few of the films that you can still watch online)

Opening Ceremony 

It was a colourful and exciting evening of film, music, food and drink… with Director of Ceremony Zaza “Zazalicious” Ndlovu, performances by members of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Dancers Association and Welcome Remarks by ZIFFT Board Member, Mr Solomon Maramba. The Opening Film was “GATHER” by Sanjay Rawal (USA, 2020, Documentary) – an intimate portrait of a growing movement amongst Indigenous Americans to reclaim their spiritual and cultural identities, through obtaining sovereignty over their ancestral food systems, while battling against the historical trauma brought on by centuries of gencide. 

Watch full event here.

ZIFF 2021 Films

The festival featured specially selected films that were in line with the “Owning Our Story” theme and Narratives from Zimbabwe project. These included feature films, short films, documentaries, and children’s animated films – even poetry and music videos that explored themes around  Films were streamed via the festival website for the duration of the festival only. You can see the list of films and watch the trailers here. You might be able to watch some of the films again in the “ZIFF on Repeat” and outreach screenings. Watch this space for more info on where and when those will be happening!

A few of the films were followed by discussions with the filmmakers, as we did with Chapungu Chehondo, presented by Zimbabwe Heritage Trust and the Cultures in Crisis? Session, featuring “Botso” and Development Dispatch’s “Beyond Statistics” animated short films. 

Hi-5 and Smartphone Short Film Competitions

The two competitions ran under the theme “My Heritage” with submissions coming in from  young and emerging filmmakers from across the country. The shortlisted films for the two competitions were streamed and voted for online. Winners were announced during the Festival Closing and Awards Ceremony (read more about the winners here). You can watch the entire line-up of films on ZIFFT’s YouTube channel

Hi-5 Short Film finalists.

Launch of “Chisara” – PlayAfrikaTV Original Series

It was a glitz and glam affair at the ZifftHub on Friday 10 December, with the cast, crew and audience all dressed to impress and ready to light up the evening. If you missed it, you MISSED OUT!! Watch how it happened here and also head over to PlayAfrikaTV to watch the series.

Presentation of The Narratives from Zimbabwe Project.

ZIFFT Executive Director, Mr Nigel Munyati gave an overview of the Narratives from Zimbabwe project, and spoke about the progress made with the project so far and the vision and next steps. Watch the presentation here.

Film Forum Discussion: From Archive to Screen

An insightful conversation with veteran actress and filmmaker Marian Kunonga, who talked about her experience of working on the historical film “Flame” and Major Matarirano, writer and producer of “The Story of Nehanda”. Watch the discussion here.

Owning ALL Our Stories

– Film as a vehicle for inclusion within the “Narratives from Zimbabwe” context – This discussion looked at how film can be used to bring better understanding about groups of people who have been marginalised in the past, but are now taking their place and finding their voice within our society. Watch Ben Mahaka in conversation with Edgar Langerveldt


“Owning Our TALENT”

A conversation with Hollywood-based Zimbabwean actors Tongayi Chirisa & Rick Cosnett with Gianinni Semedo Moreira, director of the award-winning short film “The Border”. Watch this fun and candid discussion here.

And that’s not all….

There were also the Short Film Project and Animation workshops, outreach film screenings (Action Hub, Highfields as part of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Festival) and the Reel Kidz fiesta, which added to the fun and rich audience engagement of the 2021 festival.

Closing & Awards Ceremony

The closing ceremony saw James Jemwa, Farai Chimombe, Evelyn Gambe-Pingiriasi, Rumbi Katedza and Gregory Shambare receiving the Safirio Madzikatire Lifetime Achievement Awards, for their contribution and service to the Zimbabwean film industry over the years. Read more about the winners…

The Safirio Madzikatire Award recipients.
Left to Right: Gregory Shambare, Farai Chimombe, James Jemwa and representative for Evelyn Gambe-Pingiriasi (Sakhile Mahaka)

The Short Film competition winners were also announced on this same occasion and there was excitement in the air as the young filmmakers came up to receive their prizes. Films by Robin Samaya and the Midlands State University (MSU) Department of Media, Communication, Film & Theatre Arts took top honours in the Smartphone Short Film Competition and the Hi5 Short Film Competition respectively. Makorokoto, Amhlope, Congratulations to the winners! Read more about the winners here.

Looking forward to ZIFF 2022 – dates to be announced soon!!