This year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF) experienced a very low turnout which organisers said was due to lack of support for the local film industry.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, ZIFF was running under the theme “Narratives from Africa”.
In an interview, ZIFF Trust chair, Nigel Munyati, attributed the low turn-out to what he called “self-hate”.
Munyati said this year’s edition of the film festival was not as huge as in the past years due to lack of support on locally produced films.
“This year the festival was not as big as in the past. The turnout was very low. Due to this year’s theme, I would like to attribute the low turn-out to what I would like to call 'self-hate'. People have become attached to Western movie concepts and in return regard African or locally produced film as not interesting and backward,” Munyati said.
He said the low turnout could have been caused by various economic and political issues prevailing in the country at the moment.
“I would also attribute the low turnout to economic issues, that maybe most people are going through financial problems and struggling with the cost of living, and also it could be that people are going through an election hangover,” Munyati said.
The film “Cook Off”, shown at the opening of the festival, stole the show.
“Cook Off” can be described as the Zimbabwean version of Master Chef. It had various dramatic themes and featured chefs and general food lovers.
The film was produced by Joe Njagu and was written and directed by former Book Café owner Thomas Brickhill starring the star rapper, Tehn Diamond.
Munyati said this year’s theme and the film festival’s initiative was well received mainly by film makers, film critics, the media and arts practitioners as they are the ones critically involved in local content film production.
He said ZIFF’s adoption of the theme “Narratives from Africa” is within the trust’s bid to promote and celebrate locally produced film and give Zimbabwe and Africa the chance to tell its own story.
The film festival has over the years grown into a highly celebrated arts initiative in the country but this year, there was a huge difference as the festival did not attract many people.
The poor turnout was an indication that the country needed to engage its neighbours and investors in the arts as well promote locally produced film so as to cultivate a culture to appreciate local film within the people.
In an article published in The Southern Times last week, titled “It’s time to review SADC arts and culture festival project”, renowned arts critic, David Chifunyise, says arts and cultural festivals can increase awareness of the region’s rich cultural diversity, strengthening relations among people in the country and highlighting the importance of the cultural dimensions of regional development as well as stimulating artistic creativity.
Regional strides have been made over the years in attempt to promote arts and culture but to no avail.
In 2001, SADC Heads of State and government met in Blantyre, Malawi and signed the SADC protocol on Culture, Information and Sport which indicated that member states should organise joint staging of arts and cultural festivals and engage the private sector and facilitate their commercialization in order to ensure their viability.