Uganda will have a paltry representation of only two movies at the 16th edition of the annual Zanzibar International Film Festival. The cinema showcase, also known as the Festival of Dhow Countries, takes place on the idyllic Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar from June 29 to July 7, 2013. Haunted Souls (32mins) and The Ugandan (84mins) are the two showpieces from the Pearl of Africa. Haunted Souls will screen as part of the elite Ousmane Sembene showcase at the Grand Palace Hotel on Thursday July 4 at 11.30am. The film is set in post-conflict Northern Uganda in which a former child soldier and captive wife abducted at an early age by LRA rebels tries to rebuild her life. The Ugandan is about the clash of Indian and Ugandan cultures set against the backdrop of a returning Indian family wishing to repossess the house they left after Idi Amin gave them marching orders in 1972. It will show on Saturday July 6 at Maru Maru Hotel at 11am. Haunted Souls was written by top Ugandan screen/ stage actress Rehema Nanfuka and directed by Godwin Otwoma and has been selected as part of the Short Film segment at the 34th Durban International Film Festival. The Ugandan was directed by Patrick Sekyaya, one of the country’s most prolific young filmmakers. It also showed at Fespaco, Africa’s premier film festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso earlier this year.
Neighboring Kenya on the other hand has a record six listings including three full-length feature films. They are Nairobi Half Life (95mins), Ni Sisi (92mins) and Leo (95mins). The others are Calling Home (6mins), Fluorescent Sin (9mins) and Yellow Fever (7mins). Kenya’s stronger presence at Ziff is testament to the proactive approach the country has taken to appreciate the role of film as a driver of the Creative Economy, something that is largely ignored in Uganda. Kenya’s new President Uhuru Kenyatta gave his country’s audio visual industry a ringing endorsement by shooting a promotional video used in pitches at the recent Cannes Film Festival in France. Coupled with promoting Kenya as a top cinematic destination much like Morocco and lately Namibia, our easterly neighbors also have the requisite infrastructure in place by way of a film commission and industry guilds.
The principal screening venues at Ziff 2013 are The Zanzibar Grand Palace and Marumaru Hotels alongside the Wavuvi Restaurant, which will only screen Swahili films. Tanzania which is a union of the Tanganyika mainland and Zanzibar islands of Unguja and Pemba has built its own homegrown cinematic profile by way of its Bongo movies genre. The Old Fort Amphitheatre will offer twilight screenings starting at 7pm every evening showcasing two feature films before the cinematic party proceeds to Mambo Club (also inside the Old Fort) for three hours of music and dancing. There will also be workshops at the Old Dispensary and the Old Customs House and the good thing about Ziff is that most activity happens within walking distance with locals at the ready to offer directions to the venues. The exotic aquatic cuisine fresh from the ocean adds to the experience and the Forodhani Park turns into an open-air restaurant in which visiting and indigenous cine-philes alike gather to eat fresh, cheap and very tasty food. Those with a mind to network have the ZUKU Lounge at Maru Maru Hotel as a platform for raising film business potentials every evening from 5 to 7pm.
See complete festival programme here; http://www.ziff.or.tz/the-festival/festival-program-2013/
Text: MOSES SERUGO