The festival does not feature a single local movie out of the competing films raising questions about the future of Zimbabwe’s film industry dogged by perennial underfunding, lack of expertise and little training yet the talent is abundantly available.
Eight films and all entirely foreign are showing during the week-long festival unlike in previous years when locally made films were featured and collected awards even.
From Ghana is An African Election a film that explores, behind the scenes, the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana and brings out the complex political machinery of a third world democracy struggling to legitimize itself to its first world contemporaries.
Again from Ghana is Sinking Sands that brings out the tragedy of domestic violence.
South Africa’s entry Mama Africa is a film based on the life and work of music icon, the late Miriam Makeba.
Also from South Africa is A Small Town Called Descent which is a story about South Africa’s political dynamics.
The Redemption of General BUTT Naked is from Liberia while Blood in the Mobile is a Liberia/USA production that argues that conflict minerals in the Congo are funding the production of world mobile phones.
KINYARWANDA was made in Rwanda and tells the story of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
And finally from the Democratic Republic of Congo is Viva Riva based on a story of the underworld deals in oil in the central African country.
ZIFF acting director Charity Maruta was honest enough to admit that local film did not meet the highest quality this year.
“The festival can only show the best of the best and we didn’t have anything locally,” Maruta told Radio VOP.
“But we are aware of the challenges that our filmmakers face such as funding, training and expertise and we are gearing towards addressing these shortfalls as a festival.”
Local filmmaker Rumbi Katedza’s movie Playing Warriors was rated as a quality product but could not be scheduled at this year’s festival because it was still being finalized and yet to premier. However ZIFF said they would use Playing Warriors as a training forum for young filmmakers this year.
The festival closes next Friday when winners of Best African Production and Best Promising Director will be announced. The awards each carry US$1 000 prize money.
It is not the prize that is essential to ZIFF but the essence of film as a tool to connect Africans across the world.