ZIFF film festival in false start

Malaika Mushandu

THE much-awaited Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF) failed to kick off on time on Wednesday night at 2 Canterbury Road, Kensington, Harare, leaving film lovers disgruntled.

ZIFF, which seeks to contribute to vibrant, socially and politically-relevant African storytelling through film, is the flagship programme of the Zimbabwe International Film and Festival Trust (ZIFFT) whose mission is to discover and develop local filmmakers, artists and audiences.

The film, Transactions, produced by Siza Mukwedini and directed by famous award-winning filmmaker Rumbidzai Katedza opened the festival, but sadly it was screened late after the majority of the audience that included ambassadors had left.

The festival organisers had not carefully observed the digital rights management process resulting in the screening of the film being compromised.

In an attempt to resolve the screening issue, they tried to stream the film; however, because streaming was not part of the original set-up, the available resources were not adequate to support a high-definition (HD) stream.

ZIFFT later apologised to film enthusiasts and stakeholders.

In his apology, the trust’s executive director Simbirirai Solomon Maramba, promised to handle the digital rights management process efficiently next time.

“The board and the executive of the Zimbabwe International Film and Festival Trust would like to make a sincere apology to the filmmakers, lovers of film, and the audience which included heads of diplomatic institutions, government officials, journalists, the partners and sponsors who all supported the realisation of this event,” he said.

Maramba added that they will employ all resources at their disposal to ensure rescreening succeeds.

“In light of the foregoing, the Zimbabwe International Film and Festival Trust is committed to arranging a rescreening of this very important film and subject matter at a time and date suitable for the filmmakers and their key stakeholders,” he said.

“The board and executive are committed to ensuring that the rest of ZIFF2022 lives up to the hopes and expectations of the film loving community in Zimbabwe and will be working with our partners to ensure adequate back-up solutions.”

Quality films from local, regional and international filmmakers and production houses are being showcased in-between workshops at this year’s 22nd edition of the film extravaganza running under the theme Reconnecting.

The festival seeks to contribute to vibrant, socially and politically relevant African storytelling through film.

The curtain will come down tomorrow with the screening at 5:30pm of the locally-produced Mirage directed by Malaika Mushandu and produced by Joe Njagu. This will be followed by the festival award ceremony for various competitions.

Set amid the turbulent events of Zimbabwe’s historic 2017 “takeover” from the late former President Robert Mugabe, Mirage tells the thrilling story of three women’s plot to escape from one of the country’s notorious maximum security prisons.

Tambu, who is serving a five-year jail term for stealing a chicken in her home village, hears about the ongoing abuse of her daughter at the hands of her own brother and the consequent mental illness.

A raging drive to rescue her daughter sees Tambu contemplating the unthinkable. Together with fellow inmates Zoe, Memo and the trio plot an elaborate scheme to escape from prison in order to take control of their lives.

According to the organisers, the aim of this year’s festival is to reconnect with partners and audiences, and help them do the same with each other as they emerge from the COVID-19 challenges of the past two years.

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