African Filmmakers Awarded at Zanzibar International Film Festival

By Martin Chemhere – 17 July marked a great night for African movie-makers when they were awarded for their great efforts working in an industry that is yet to provide real returns for their producers.

Poster of South African actress Kudzani Moswela in a scene from the film Pumzi

Poster of South African actress Kudzani Moswela in a scene from the film Pumzi

A total of 19 awards went to deserving winners spread across several countries in Africa Europe and Asia at a dazzling Awards Night.

The ZIFF, SIGNIS, Verona and Ousmane Sembene juries watched over 45 hours of film to select the best and deserving winners and living up to the tradition and standard of this leading African film festival.

The best award of the night, The Golden Dow Award went to South African filmmaker Stephanie Sycholt whose film Themba won the Best Feature Film.

Uganda’s Caroline Kamya won the Silver Dhow – Best Feature Film with her film Imani, with Kenya’s Kamau Wa Ndungu and Nick Reding taking the Golden Dhow – Best East African Talent award with their film Ndoto za Elibidi, Singapore’s Jill Soong walking away with the Golden Dhow – Best Short Film with the The Gift, another Kenyan Wanuri Kahiu winning the Golden Dhow – Special Jury Prize with the film Pumzi. The film is on a roll after scooping five awards at last year’s African Movie Academy Awards.

Alik Shahadah of the UK won the Golden Dhow – Best Documentary for the film Motherland. Ndota za Elibidi also won the Verona African Film Festival Award.

The film Soul Boy by Hawa Essuman (Kenya and Germany) won the SIGNIS Award, while A Step Into Darkness by Atil Inac (Turkey) took the 1st Commendation,  Ndota za Elibidi again winning, this time the 2nd Commendation and My City On Fire by Dennis Onen (Uganda) taking the East Africa Talent Award.

The Sembene Ousmane Award went to Zimbabwean filmmaker Saki Mafundikwa’s Shungu followed by The Gardener and His 21 Flowers by Emil Lamgballe and Maria Samota le Dous scooping the 1st Mention while the 2nd Mention went to Ndoto za Elibidi.

Themba also won the UNICEF Award with Chairman’s Award going to My Policy by Phad Mutumba (Uganda/Canada). The ZIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to Professor Jengo, with the Best Tanzanian Film award taken by the film Nani by Sajni Srivastava. Yvonne Cherry took the Best Actor/Actress award.

ZIFF’s major industry event, the Festival Forum Conference drew over 40 of the key players in African cinema there in Zanzibar, sharing experiences and creating links. They interacted amongst an amazing raft of films on the day that included some of the best and cutting edge films coming out of Africa.

Entertainment was provided by among others Dully Sykes, one of Tanzania’s greatest hip hop stars playing in the Mambo Club, the renowned music venue.

Also gracing the ZIFF was the First Lady of Zanzibar, who introduced the main feature No Woman No Cry at the Old Fort Amphitheatre.