Uganda boasts a sizeable showing of seven films at the 17th Zanzibar International Film Festival that takes place from June 14-22, 2014. Six of the seven films are shorts. Only one feature film made it to the official selection list of East Africa’s biggest annual cinema showpiece. Joe Nakibinge’s King’s Virgin, winner of Best Picture at last year’s 3rd Pearl International Film Festival in Kampala will have to compete for festival goers alongside more popular full-length features like Half of a Yellow Sun and the festival’s official opening film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The other Ugandan films are Bye Bye Mzungu (David Cecil), Curse Of An Addict (Lovinsa Kavuma), Karamoja in the Eyes of ISSP (Joseph Kitsha), Kuhani (Ntare Mwine), Love Thy Game (Annet Nakamya) and The Present (Kenneth Matovu). Kitsha’s documentary Karamoja in the Eyes of ISSP is the only Ugandan film in the running for the Sembene Ousmane Award.
The festival films come from 35 countries comprising 38 short films, 23 feature length films and 18 documentaries. With such a varied cinematic menu, the challenge for Ugandan filmmakers will be baiting festival-goers to attend their screenings. It is not unusual Ugandan filmmakers to aggressively promote the visibility of their works at the international festivals. This usually goes beyond catalogue listings to designing imaginative posters, visually-arresting trailers, optimal use of social media by way of dedicated film pages, Twitter handles and hashtags and dedicated movie websites. A Facebook page; Uganda at ZIFF 2014 (https://www.facebook.com/UgandaZIFF2014) has been created to promote Uganda’s listings ahead of Ziff’s mid-June opening.
The varied festival programme includes screenings for children themed around “a safe environment”. Music-wise the festival will feature 13 performing groups with Didier Award, the Senegalese maestro performing on the opening night. Groups from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa are scheduled to entice audiences over the nine nights of the festival. Afrika Tumefika, a popular art and fashion exhibition from Uganda will also be featured. Over two-dozen filmmakers from around the world will present their works and take part in workshops, networking events and film pitching contests. A special Script writing workshop to be facilitated by UK’s top filmmakers Special Guest Director Nick Broomfield (BIG and Tupac) and Marc Hoerferlin (Albino United) will also be held courtesy of ZUKU TV. The pay-TV service is looking for submissions for feature-length Swahili films for broadcast on ZUKU Swahili Movies, a premium movie channel tailor-made for audiences within East African. The Kampala-based Maisha Film Lab will hold its popular screenwriting lab with a $2,000 reward for the best script. Cinephiles planning on making the journey to the enchanting island of Zanzibar can get more information at http://www.ziff.or.tz.
Text: MOSES SERUGO (firstname.lastname@example.org)