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Zimbabwe Film Festival Roars Into Life With Organizers Set to Showcase 51 Films

FilmAid worker with children during mobile cinema screening in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, on May 8, 2013. (Courtesy: FilmAid)

FilmAid worker with children during mobile cinema screening in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, on May 8, 2013. (Courtesy: FilmAid)

The 17th edition of the Zimbabwe Film Festival kicks off in Harare Saturday with over 50 films set to be showcased at different locations, including Mbare as the ZIFF seeks to bring more Zimbabweans to the big screen.

Among the major highlights of the festival is a film about the unity government era, Democracy, that producers say is a must watch.

Director Nigel Munyati says all is set for the annual festival that runs until Saturday October 10 under the theme ‘Documentation’ focusing on documentaries and animations.

“We have chosen the theme because we know that these are two film genres that are least popular in Zimbabwe and yet they are very very important in general in terms of story-telling,” said Munyati. “The power that they have is much bigger than all the others.”

He said it is important for producers to step in and help preserve the country’s heritage, especially as some of the best animation films, like award-winning The Lion King and Madagascar, are African stories being told by Hollywood.

“We grew up on stories of the hare and the baboon and you know how much of educative process that was, we learnt a lot through those stories, even just pure entertainment and we believe that our youngsters have a lot to gain from that,” said Munyati.

“So someone else is telling the stories that we should be telling but because we have got our focus in the wrong places, someone else is.”

On documentation, Munyati said it is sad that in Zimbabwe only one film has been produced since independence about the country’s liberation struggle.

“No-one has taken the time to document our war of liberation for example…, that’s a shame,” he said.

“Look at the Vietnam War, there are thousands of films about that war and glorifying America in that process and yet America did not win that war so these are some of the things that we are not appreciating that there’s so much power in the art of film and we need to start harnessing that power as Africans and in our particular case as Zimbabweans.”

Topping the list of films to be showcased is Democracy, a film about the unity government of President Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and their parties. Also to be showcased will be Timbuktu (Mauritius), The Man Who Saved the World (Russia) and Elephant’s Dream.

The Man Who Saved the World premiered in October 2014 at the Woodstock Film Festival in New York.

Films, including Dreamcatcher (USA), La Serine De Faso Fani (Burkina Faso), Goodbye Lenin (Germany), Nila (India) and Far From Yesterday (Zimbabwe) will be screened during the festival which moves to Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru and Bulawayo a week after under the name ZiffTours.

An awards ceremony will be convened on the 9th of October to honor the best films of the festival.