Zanzibar — The Zanzibar International Film Festival (Ziff) came to a climax on Saturday night with official Awards Ceremony at Ngome Kongwe, Stone Town.
In a tradition that has been around for the two decades, Ziff director Fabrizio Colombo announced the dates and theme for the next festival in 2018. He called on filmmakers to speak up over their trade.
"The next festival will run under the theme 'Speak Up and Say It'! There are times, when silence speaks very loud, but most of the time, when we do not speak we lose more than the sound," he pointed out.
He added: "When we speak up it is because we feel that silence will not do. We speak up to stand for what we believe in and we speak up to stand for others. We often speak up because we can no longer stand silent, when we see oppression taking place. But speaking up requires courage, consistence and taking position," he said. He noted that through films the world could speak up and let all those, who saw a movie or heard about it know that they could never be silenced.
At a packed venue, various judges presented prestigious awards from annual silver and golden dhows to a host of new awards.
These included the Trace Mziki East African Music Video Award and the Adiaha Award for the best female African documentary filmmaker.
These were eight days filled with film screenings, at least 15 different workshop programmes, live music and the first ever film and TV market, which brought together hundreds of industry players.
Spaking at the ceremony, one of the founders of the festival, Mr Hassan Mitawi, said after years of false start the idea of Ziff was then a reality.
"This child has finally come of age and is now knocking at the doors of the world. We have every reason to be proud of this baby because she now belongs to the world," he said. But even then he cautioned that as an infant festival they needed a conducive environment to realise the dreams of its founders.
He was joined by more than 50 filmmakers from 12 countries and more than 100 Soko Filamu delegates, as well as workshop facilitators and judges from across the world.
The permanent secretary in the ministry of Information, Culture, Sports and Arts, Prof Elisante ole Gabriel, was also at the event.
"In many countries the film industry is one of the major employers of the youth, which is a testimony that we can grow our economies through the business of films," he said.
Ziff guest of honour, US-based producer Dexter Davis, who conducted a three-day workshop that culminated in a pitching competition for African filmmakers was also in attendance.