As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 24th ZIFF in 2020 was cancelled.

The 24th ZIFF will kick off with a renewed sense of purpose for the country’s premiere arts, culture and tourism event run by ZIFF for more than 20 years, om 21st -2th July 2021.

There have been questions as to whether we should hold the festival this year especially given the pandemic is still in place.  The answer is yes, because we believe the arts have an important role to play in society and especially so during stressful times like these. ZIFF can and needs to be held in a safe way under Covid-19 protocols, and thereby help the festival visitor to make sense of the times.

The diversity of visitors physically in Stonetown, in villages, schools and Online demand that we be boldly creative to enable the arts to pervade our lives in whatever conditions.

Films have the power to engage people, to involve them in a given subject and this, more than any other, is an important time to engage with community regarding many issues.We have a pandemic in place, new governments in place and a new management to boot. We have renewed hope, and the last 23 years have prepared us to approach this year’s festival inmore creative ways.

The festival is first about a place and people- Zanzibar. We wish to engage with Zanzibaris and with people who love Zanzibar. The festival is our gift to tourists who come to Zanzibar and we want them to enjoy their stay and come back for more. It is also Zanzibar’s celebration of what we have been able to give to the world through the arts, and therefore film will utilize the power it has, to dialogue with the other arts as well as with visitors. That is why ZIFF also celebrates other art forms during the festival. We have exhibitions, musical performances and community events all meant to allow people and visitors to encounter Zanzibari and African culture through films and other arts.

The world is not contending with the pandemic alone, it is also trying to define itself through identity, political and cultural emancipation as well as finding new and creative ways to solve world problems.

For ZIFF2021 we have a different scenario that we can plan around for the Festival.

We shall have a mixed venue event where we shall conduct a number of workshops for filmmakers (small groups) to enable to utilize the power of film viewing and analysis that festival are known to embrace. Social distancing can be maintained while people watch films in the Old Fort Amphitheatre In the Old Fort where normally 1500 gather, we expect to allow only 500 viewrs to allow for a healthy and comfortable seating.

A powerful and engaging ZIFF YouTube Channel will effectively engage with East African filmmakers through collaboration with existing global film organizations. We have a scenario where a film will be screened in Hongkong with discussants in Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and London. This is a scenario that is already in plan with partners in Hongkong (HKBU), in Dar es Salaam (Nafasi) and at NgomeKongwe in Zanzibar. More locations can also be invited and make the screening a global event.

Change is now the norm and as we see how Africans have embrace their unique traditional health systems to support current knowledge about the pandemic, with some success too. So too do we see a place for Africa to reinvent the festival ethic and make it not only a Europeanized concept but an Africanized one as well.ZIFF needs to be a value adding event to the film industry and this is what needs to be emphasized and improved upon. The diverse stakeholders from NGOs to government, donors to sponsors can find a place to contribute to the well-being and the economic sustainability of the nation through being part of the festival.

Karibuni wote.

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