After eight days and evenings watching over 500 films, the sails were lowered for the 19th Zanzibar International Film Festival on Saturday night. A fully-packed amphitheatre, in the Old Fort was the backdrop once again for the event. By Iman Mani
Over 60 visiting filmmakers, alongside hundreds of invited guests and thousands of locals, occupied the space. For the first time, East African films dominated the awards, with Rwanda's "A Place for Myself" by Clementine Dusabejambo, winning three awards.
These were the Sembene Ousmane, Signis Prize and the Golden Dhow for Best Short Film. This film goes through the story of a five-year old albino girl, whose classmates make her realize that "her being different" is more a problem than a special trait.
Others in the neighbourhood treat her likewise, with the exception of her mother, who encourages her. Together, mother and daughter fight back and raise their voice to find "a place for themselves". Kenya's "Watatu" by Nick Reding, was also recognized with three awards.
These include the coveted Golden Dhow for Best Feature Film, Signis Prize and shared the European African Film Festival Award, with another Kenyan film, "Zawadi" by Richard Card and David Kinyanjui.
Reding's film examines the rise of radicalization amongst young Muslims in Mombasa. Its part drama, part documentary, and written in-part by the citizens of Mombasa. The short film "Zawadi" tells a story of a ten-year-old boy, in the Kenyan slums of Kibera, hustles to provide for his family, which takes him away from his crush on her birthday. The Emerson's Foundation for Zanzibar Award went to "Daladala" by Salum Stika.
This film shows how the people of the Isles depend on the local private transport system, despite being subjected to indignities and even ridicule, at times. Two new categories were introduced this year. The first was the Azam Bongo Movie Awards.
They gave the Best Actress to Godliver Gordian, for her role in "Aisha". This feature drama also got their Best Editor, Momose Cheyo and Best Feature Film Producer, Amil Shivji. Best Cinematographer went to Freddy Feruzi for "Kariakoo".
The other new category was the Com Net Bongo Movie Awards. They gave Best Actor to Salim Ahmed for his role in "Safari ya Gwalu", Best Writer to Abubakar Guni and Devotha Mayunga for their "Queen of Masai", while Best Director went to Chande Omar for "Aisha" and Best Film in Sound went to "Bongo na Flava" by Joseph Myinga.
In the ZIFF Awards the Silver Dhow for the Best Documentary went to"The Valley of Salt" by Salaud Morisset from Switzerland and Egypt. Best Film went to"Leeches" by Payal Sethi from India. The Special Jury Prize went to "Me a Belgian, My Mother a Ghanaian" by Adams Mensah from Belgium.
The Bibi Kidude Award went to "Kalushi" by Mandlakayise Dube from South Africa and the Best Music Video for "Walk it Off" went to Farid Kubanda, who is better known as Fid-Q. As has been the custom before the screening of the winning film the theme and dates for next year's 20th anniversary edition - "Finding Joy" from July 8 to 16 was announced.