Rosie Mitchell

Film buffs can start building some stamina again, with the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (Ziff) just around the corner. Kicking off on 30 September, the festival is under new management and has an amazing 60 films to screen this year, at three venues in Harare, one in Norton, one in Chitungwiza and one in Bulawayo.

With a distinctly African focus, Ziff 2011 offers film lovers an exciting array of primarily new, provocative feature films, short films and documentaries, to which we as Africans can truly relate.

The primary venue is in the Harare Gardens. The additional venues at Alliance Française, Embassy of Spain, Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton, the Young Africa Skills Centre in Chitungwiza and The Bulawayo National Gallery, will ensure that the festival has an extremely wide reach.

The festival includes a week of workshops for budding film-makers, to be held at The Mannenberg with the focus on conscientious filmmaking, some led by renowned filmmakers Djo Munga of the DRC and Ramadan Suleman of South Africa.

Running through to 7 October, the top-quality films have been carefully selected for their focus on our own continent’s concerns, addressing Africa’s social, cultural, economic and political realities.

While the primary focus is on films about Africa, or made by Africans, or both, Ziff will as usual offer an excellent selection of festival quality films from North America, Europe and Asia.

The theme of this year’s festival is Finding Common Ground. The organisers hope to bring Zimbabweans together at Ziff to enjoy films which are likely also to lead to much discussion and debate and promote mutual understanding, as we explore many burning issues we face as Africans, continent wide.

Festival highlights include An African Election, which follows the 2008 elections in Ghana, on opening night; The Redemption of General Butt Naked, telling the story of Joshua Milton Blayhi, a Liberian warlord who murdered thousands but later atoned for his crimes and sought forgiveness from his victims; and Viva Riva, a gangster thriller from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Watch the trailer for An African Election:

Also on show is Mama Africa, a new, collaborative documentary by filmmakers from South Africa, Finland and Germany about Miriam Makeba, and Blood in the Mobile, a powerful Finnish-DRC collaboration about the dark side of how cellphones are made, connecting our mobiles with the civil war in the Congo.

Watch the trailer for Viva Riva:

Rwandan film Kinyarwanda returns to the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the untold story of how Muslim leader, the Mufti of Rwanda, issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims from participating in the killing, and how the mosques became places of refuge where Muslims and Christians, Hutus and Tutsis came together to protect each other.

  • This article was originally published in Zimbabwean newspaper The Standard.