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How to find the magic at ZIFF 2012
This year's Zanzibar International Film Festival starts tomorrow (Friday), with the theme When Global Images Meet In Zanzibar. The festival runs from 7 to 15 July and will showcase a panoply of great African films, as well as workshops, live music and fringe events.
Star guests will be Mario van Peebles and his son Mandela, promoting their new film We The Party. A previous festival guest, documentary maker Nick Broomfield, who is reportedly filming The Catastrophist in Tanzania with stars such as KNaan and Stephen Dorff this year, is expected to make a return visit to the festival.
Here Mambo gives you our hit list of recommended films to see. On the whole, much of the fun of ZIFF is turning up and surrendering yourself to whatever film is on - this can result in seeing some gems and shorts that you might not have considered. But if you are a planning buff (though bear in mind the full programme is not yet published and all screening times are still provisional), the top ten films recommended by Mambo are:
1. Toussaint Louverture: This epic drama in French is a biopic following the story of Toussaint L'Ouverture, leader of the Haitian independence movement during the French Revolution, who freed slaves and created a black-governed French protectorate. This should be a refreshing take on colonialism and the slave trade. (Showing at Old Fort, Monday 9 July, 7.45pm)
2. From the Streets to the Fields: This South African documentary takes place during the World Cup, when a parallel championship for junior players gave the opportunity for some kids to meet their football idols, including Luis Suarez. (Screening time tbc)
3. Zanzibar Dance, Trance and Devotion: Researcher, dancer and choreographer Tamalyn Dallal has a long history with Zanzibar and recently spent time in many of its villages documenting traditional dances that might one day soon pass from popular memory. In this film she brings these traditional dances together into one special anthology. (Screening time tbc)
4. Habibti: This short is based on a short story by Oscar nominee Ari Folman, was filmed by Lebanese director Nour Wazzi and features a strong cast including Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass - it follows the story of an older Arab woman who visits London to see her estranged daughter and discovers that she is living with a black man. (Screening time tbc)
5. Ghett'a Life: This Jamaican ghetto action drama, executive produced by boxer Lennox Lewis, tells the story of a young man who wants to train at a boxing gym across town but whose politician father forbids it as it's in a opposition neighbourhood. (Showing at Old Fort, Sunday 8 July, 7.15pm)
6. We The Party: This coming-of-age film directed by Mario Van Peebles and starring son Mandela aims to tackle teenage issues in a socially responsible way. It's had some harsh reviews overseas - but is that just because the film doesn't fit the Hollywood entertainment mould? Watch the film and judge for yourself! Anything featuring Snoop Dogg has to be worth a watch anyway. (Showing at Old Fort, Thursday 12 July, 8pm)
7. A Life As Jimmy: Mai Rasmussen, who directed this South Sudanese-set documentary with Rachel Charlotte Smith, explains: "It means so much to me to share A Life as Jimmy with the audience in Zanzibar. It tells the story of one young man – Jimmy – who struggles to balance family responsibilities with his own dreams and ambitions while South Sudan itself is trying to find its feet after the long and devastating civil war. Bringing the film back to Africa is very important to me and I sincerely hope that an African audience can relate to many of the issues that it deals with." (Screening time tbc)
Jimmy visits his home village in South Sudan to discuss family responsibilities
8. Wageuzi: This surreal political sci-fi satire animation re-imagines the 2012/2013 Kenyan presidential battle as a Transformers-style contest. (Showing at Old Fort, Saturday 8 July, 9pm)
9. Mama Africa: This full-length documentary looks at the life and music of South African legend Miriam Makeba, who was both a singer and civil rights activist, and also features such real-life stars as Nelson Mandela, Angelique Kidjo, Hugh Masekela and more. Reviews have been mixed, but there is no doubt that this will contain some great archive footage. (Showing at Old Fort, Sunday 8 July, 9pm)
10. Papa Nzenu: This pan-African animation anthology allows local storytellers to tell their own myths and legends. A different director takes charge of each episode. The Cameroonian pilot episode is shown below:
Pick up a festival programme at the start of the festival for more detailed scheduling information, and stay posted for Mambo's ZIFF events diary, coming soon. Also consider turning up 10 to 15 minutes early for films you're keen to see, as films have been known to screen early as well as late.