The Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF) makes its annual return to the country’s cultural calendar for its 18th edition scheduled to run in Harare from 1 to 8 October.
Hosted by the Zimbabwe International Film & Festival Trust (ZIFFT), ZIFF2016 promises to be a carnival full of fascinating medley of films, special events, and workshops. Running under the theme Reel, Sound, & Music the Festival will screen out a full programme of films relevant to this theme in partnership with various embassies, corporate sponsors, and local and international independent filmmakers.
In conformity with the theme, ZIFF2016 will kick off with the multiple award winning biopic documentary ‘Amy’ as the Opening film. The film which is the highest grossing British documentary of all time deals with the controversial life, music, and tragic death of British soul singer Amy Winehouse. To date, the documentary has won over 40 awards including the prestigious Academy Awards (‘Oscars’) for Best Documentary Feature in 2016. The screening will be hosted in partnership with the British Council on Saturday 1st October.
The Embassy of France will contribute to the theme with the film ‘Atilla Marcel’. The director of this film is Sylvain Chomet, best known for his first animated feature film ‘The Triplets of Belleville’ that was nominated for two Oscars in 2005; for Best Animated Feature, making it the first PG-13 animated film to be nominated in that category; and for Best Original Song, ‘Belleville Rendez-vous’, sung by Matthieu Chedid in the original version and written by Benoît Charest and Sylvain Chomet. ‘Attila Marcel’ is about Paul, a sweet man-child who lives in a Paris apartment with two his eccentric aunts who have raised him since he was 2 years old and dream of seeing him become a virtuoso pianist.
In retrospective style, the Festival will screen the modern classic ‘Purple Rain’. The 1984 film has been nominated by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest movie musicals, and is also an Oscar winner for Best Original Song Score in 1985. The grand appeal of this screening is that it stars the late musical icon Prince, who unexpectedly and tragically died in April 2016, and is thus a fitting and memorable tribute to one of the great musical icons of our time. This film and the ‘Purple Party’ after-party, hosted in partnership with the United States Embassy, are events definitely not to be missed.
The United States Embassy will also present the 2015 film ‘Dope’. In the Rick Famuyiwa’s coming-of-age film, Malcolm is a teenager growing up in Inglewood, a rough section of Los Angeles County. He’s obsessed with ’90s hip-hop, and is teased mercilessly for his commitment to dressing like the rappers from that era. Malcolm is a smart kid with dreams of getting into an Ivy League school. One night he attends a party in honor of a local drug dealer, and what transpires is a wild night for Malcolm and his friends. With Pharrell Williams and Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs as co-executive producers, two of the biggest names in the hip-hop world, ‘Dope’ is a sure hit for all hip-hop heads both old and young.
The German Day will present the film ‘The Long Distance’ a documentary directed by Daniel Andreas Sager. This is a film which has been sourced through DOKfest (DOK.network Africa), ZIFF’s partner since 2014. As well as sourcing this 2015 documentary film DOKfest have facilitated for Daniel Sager to be in attendance at ZIFF2016 where he will give a discussion on his choice of music for the film during the Film Forum.
Other embassies hosting films during the festival include Italy and Japan, with the Japanese also conducting outreach screenings in various high density suburbs.
On the Zimbabwean front, “Escape” a full length feature film makes its World Premiere at ZIFF2016. With the attendant glitz and glamour expected on the red carpet, film will headline the homegrown entries. Starring celebrities such as Afro jazz artist Selmor Mtukudzi and HIFA Executive Producer Maria Wilson, this is easily one of the must-attend attractions of the festival. The film is co-directed by Joe Njagu and Dr. Agnieszka Piotrowska of Thinking Films, who produced the film in association with local film company MMX Productions.
Topping off the ZIFF2016 extravaganza will be the traditional Awards Night, this year hosted in partnership with MNet’s Zambezi Magic. Various Awards will also be presented to eligible films in different categories, including the popular Zimbabwe Calabash reserved for local entries. Other awards to look forward to at this black tie event include the time-honored Safirio Madzikatire Awards for Distinguished Contribution to Film, that is given to local artists with an outstanding record of contribution to Zimbabwe’s film industry.
In a sure sign of confidence in ZIFFT during a time of economic hardship, ZIFF2016 has retained most of its sponsors from previous years. Special mention goes to headline sponsor, Old Mutual Zimbabwe, and new-kid-on-the-block Doltek Enterprises.