Submissions open for 20th Zanzibar International Film Fest

Submissions are open to filmmakers from around the world for entry into the official competition at the 20th anniversary edition of the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF).

ZIFF is one of the highlights of the east African island nation's cultural calendar, with African and international filmmakers, film fans and tourists flocking annually to the nine-day event that celebrates film, music, the arts and the spirit of the island itself.

The festival's global reach continues to widen. This year, 80 films out of a record 490 submissions from 32 countries were selected to compete, with films from Albania and Estonia making their first appearance alongside productions from Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the USA, among others.

South Africa was represented by Mandla Dube's biographical drama Kalushi, which tells the story of freedom fighter and martyr Solomon Mahlangu, as well as the documentaries Coming of Age by Teboho Edkins and Lost Tongue by Davison Mudzingwa, and Jarryd Coetsee's short film The Suit.

Kalushi was chosen to open ZIFF 2016, and Dube, along with score composer Rashid Lanie, was in attendance both for the opening night screening of the film, and for a press conference on the following day, 10 July, which would have been Solomon Mahlangu's birthday.

Kalushi went on to win the festival's Chairman's Award, while The Suit - an adaptation of Can Themba's classic short story - was given a Special Jury Mention.

Films will be to chosen to compete under five different jury categories at ZIFF 2017, namely:

African Cinema (including the continent and the Diaspora); Dhow Countries (countries of the Indian Ocean Rim, the Arab Peninsular and the Indian Ocean Islands, including Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan); International (films from around the world that pay particular attention to African issues and realities); East African Film; and East African Music Video.

Filmmakers are invited to submit works in any genre, including features, documentaries, shorts, animation and music videos. The deadline for submissions is 15 March 2017, and submissions can be made through the ZIFF platform at

The 20th edition of ZIFF will take place in Stone Town, Zanzibar from 8 to 16 July 2017 under the theme "Finding Joy - Kusikia Furaha".

"The island of Zanzibar is a crossroads where arts, visions and stories of hope for the future meet," newly appointed festival director Fabrizio Colombo said in a statement.

"In a world of terror and fear and discouragement, ZIFF 2017 dares to boost joy and hope. We do hope that the selection of this year will contribute to share happiness and hope as the goal for every human being," Colombo said.

"ZIFF once again will be the place where we celebrate cinema and art, and for those considered 'left-overs of society', ZIFF will be their voice and eyes. Together we will find joy and hope for all." 2003 - 2021