The Sunday Mail
It was supposed to be the biggest show in Zimbabwe’s film industry.
Last year, the Zimbabwe International Film Festival and the International Images Film Festival walked down the aisle in what should have been a marriage made in heaven.
Instead of holding a first anniversary party, the couple is headed to the divorce court over “irreconcilable differences”.
The marriage was supposed to be consumated via the birth of a single film festival, a baby that stakeholders in the film sector saw as the best thing to happen to Zimbabwean cinema in years. Sadly, it was to be a stillbirth — maybe even an abortion.
ZIFF says it will stage its 20th edition of its own festival from September 1 to September 8 under the theme “African Narrative”.
And IIFF raised the curtain on its 17th edition (August 22-31) last week with the theme “Reach Out”.
Evidently, the “narrative” the two are pushing out has nothing to do with someone who wants to “reach out”.
In words that could come out at your regular marriage counselling session, IIFF co-ordinator Karen Mukwasi says the two parties to the marriage simply wanted different things.
“What caused the partnership to fail was more to do with differences in strategy for both festivals. What we aim for is totally different. We realised that we are two institutions that are pulling in different directions.
“We are a women’s festival. We want all our narratives to come back to the issues of women and that was going to be difficult under the new arrangement. IIFF targets to have issue-based conversations around its programming, something that ZIFF does not focus much on.
“We still relate up to now but it was on these key factors that we differed and decided to go on separately as usual,” said Mukwasi.
ZIFF director Nakai Matema said though the marriage was not working, things would remain civil.
“Both organisations will continue to support each other wherever possible but in the meantime we will remain separate organisations with our different mandates,” said Matema.
Zimbabwe’s film sector is undergoing a technologically-induced metamorphosis as Government implements a digitisation strategy that presents never-before-imagined opportunities for local producers, directors, script writers, actors and all other creatures that populate the cinematic universe.
Which is why the collapse of the ZIFF-IIFF marriage is as painful as any other divorce.
In the midst of that storm, MultiChoice Zimbabwe has restated its commitment to supporting both initiatives — separated though they may be.
MultieChoice Zimbabwe PR manager Liz Dziva last week said, “We are delighted to be supporting these two fine initiatives and we look forward to the resultant increase in awareness of local content, an increase in people working in the industry and of course, to a major increase in content.
“MultiChoice works with various channels on the DStv platform to showcase content and talent, and this is just one of the ways we can help make a difference.”