Kundai Marunya Arts Correspondent
The annual Zimbabwe International Film festival kicked off on a low note, with its opening ceremony held over the weekend only attended by less than 80 people, among them film makers, critics, media and arts practitioners.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the festival failed to pack up their ZIFF Trust hub outdoor theatre in Kensington.
ZIFF Trust chair Nigel Munyati attributed the low turnout to showing films from Africa as opposed to the usual Hollywood productions.
“In the past our festival was very well supported by the audience because we are bringing in films from Hollywood; films that have an international appeal.
“Now you tell people that you are showing films from Africa, they think maybe it’s better to go and watch Hope Masike (who played at Theatre in The Park on the same day) or go to Tuku’s show (Solo Festival also held on the same day).
“It’s unfortunate one has to take the risk but this is what we are doing and I believe in the long run this will be for the betterment of Zimbabwean films and our country in general,” said Munyati.
ZIIF is running under the theme ‘Narratives from Africa’ bringing in films from across the continent and the African diaspora.
Munyati said they picked the theme after realising that the African stories are usually being told by foreigners who are usually preaching negatives.
“For the first time the festival has departed from our traditional approach.
For too long we have enjoyed African stories told by others and more often than not they have been negative, talking mostly about war, corruption and famine.
“Of course these stories should be told but when they become all the stories that are told it becomes hard for us to find a way forward in building not just individual countries but the continent as a whole,” he said.
This year ZIIF opened the festival by showing an incredible local film, “Cook Off”, a movie described by Munyati as one of the best local productions in the past three years.
“Cook Off” stars rapper Tehn Diamond. It was written and directed by former Book Café proprietor Tomas Brickhill and produced by celebrated filmmaker Joe Njagu.
ZIIF runs until September 8 screening films and different venues including Theatre in the Park.