After 10 days of film viewing and other related activities, the Zanzibar International Film Festival came to a climax over the weekend with the award ceremonies at the Ngome Kongwe amphitheatre.

Winner of Zanzibar International Film Festival in Swahili and producer Bond Suleimani (middle) displays trophies he received during the award giving ceremony held at Ngome Kongwe in Zanzibar on Sat

After 10 days of film viewing and other related activities, the Zanzibar International Film Festival came to a climax over the weekend with the award ceremonies at the Ngome Kongwe amphitheatre.

Featuring an array of dignitaries from across the film world the 16th edition of the festival honoured the cream of the industry whose works excelled in different categories after scrutiny by the juries.

The categories included the Verona Awards, The Signis Awards, the Ousuman Sembene Awards, The East African script category, the ZIFF awards and the Zuku award.

There were first timers and some seasoned contestants who all went up to the podium to pick up their awards witnessed by Zanzibar’s minister of Land and Construction Abdallah Shaban on behalf of the Second Vice President, Ambassador Seif Ali Idd.Scoring high on the awards table were films from South Africa, Kenya and for the first time a local production by a Zanzibar film maker Javed Jafereji, Lovers’ Island, scoring a hat trick of awards.

The Lovers Island was honoured in Best Director, Best Actor and Best Feature film where as Ni Sisi and Little One which also received an Oscar nomination in the foreign language category last year was honoured under the Signis Award and Save the Children Award.

However, though films like Ni Sisi, No Problem and Little One featured prominently on the awards list the most surprising winner of the night was teenage actress Elizabeth Michael who beat all the adversity in recent times to win the Zuku’s Best Actress award for her role in ‘A woman of Principles’.

Lulu as she is popularly known was not present at the awards but even then she was busy on her twitter page updating her followers of her victory. “I thank God for everything in my life and it is because of him that everything happens,” tweeted the teenage actress.No Problem a film from India and Tanzania by Yasmin Kidwai won the Best Documentary and the Ousman Sembene Award.

Putting the ideals of East Africa’s integration on the agenda for the first time the jury also awarded the best East African young script writer, an award that went to Philbert Aime Mabazi for his role in Gakwandi Shoe Store. “We need to empower script writers because without them we wouldn’t be able to see these films here,” said an overwhelmed Philbert.

In another first, young film maker Amil Shifji emerged as winner in the People’s Choice category with his film Shoe Shiner.

“This was my first effort and I just can’t believe that it has gone on to win such a prestigious award at a place like ZIFF,” said the 24-year-old film maker.

Prof Abdul Sherif was honoured with the lifetime achievement for his role in preserving the history and culture of the Zanzibari.

Capping the awards night was an Iranian film Golchereh which won the top most award, Golden Dhow , thus making it the film of the night. The awards, though colourful in many ways,  were however, hit by the absence of the most winning film makers such as the Little One from South Africa and Ni Sisi from Kenya, worse still no one could explain their absence.


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