The Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) announced its awards on Saturday night July 14th, and African women topped the lists, dominating many of the top categories. The development and recognition of women within the film industry was a reoccurring theme throughout both ZIFF and the inaugural DISCOP Zanzibar.
Amongst a record number of over 4,000 entries across all all categories and from over 140 countries, East African filmmakers also featured prominently with the stunning Kenyan film Supa Modo taking home the coveted Golden Dhow for Best Feature Film.
The films in selection crossed a broad spectrum of topics and genres and represented over 40 countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Western Sahara, Niger, Iran, The United States, France, Ghana, Belgium, Tunisa, Swaziland, India, United Kingdom and many more.
Women filmmakers took home a total of 10 awards, with the documentary Silas directed by Anjali Nayar, Hawa Essuman taking home two awards; Best Documentary and Best International Film.
The Chairman’s Bi Kidude Award, named after the legendary Zanzibar musician, was awarded to Rahmatou Keita from Niger for her moving and romantic plea for cultural preservation, The Wedding Ring.
The Emerson Foundation’s Award for Best Film from Zanzibar was also awarded to a woman, Barke Ali, while the SIGNIS East African Talent Award went to Ugandan woman Kemiyondo Coutinho for Kyenvu.
In the inaugural version of the category for Best TV Series, South African Lucilla Blankenberg for her series Jab.
The Ousmane Sembene Awards for Short Film went both went to women, with Tanzania’s Esther Mndeme and South Africa’s Rea Moeti taking home the honours for their films Leah and Mma Moeketsi respectively.
Best Short Film overall was won by Tunisia’s Moufida Fedhila for Aya, while the Best Short Swahili Film was won by Faith Musembi for her film Pendo.
Additionally, women were in the spotlight throughout the event with the Ladima Foundation hosting two events and also awarding the Adaiaha Award for Best Documentary from an African Woman to New Moon, from Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann.
The Ladima Women of Influence Panel was especially well received with its focus on tangible steps to be taken to assist the development and recognition within the film and media industries. The panel included Bikiya Graham-Douglas, a Nigerian actress, singer, entrepreneur and the founder of Beeta Universal Arts Foundation, Biola Alabi, an African media expert with over 25 years of local and global media experience, Theresa Hill: South Africa: General Manager STEPS/ Acquisition Manager AfriDocs, Dr. Mzuri Issa Ali: Zanzibar: Director TAMWA, Giselle Portenier, a Candian award-winning journalist and filmmaker, and Farida Nyamachumbe a filmmaker from Zanzibar.
Women from across Africa and the globe were in strong attendance, with a marked increase from previous years. Their success in the awards roster is testament to the hard work and persistence of many, both men and women, who continue to focus on creating gender parity within the industry. ZIFF has made a concerted effort over the past few years to include and promote women filmmakers and this year the results can be seen.