The Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) has announced that it will re-launch the Sembene Ousmane Film Prize competition in 2023.
The Sembene Ousmane Films for Development Award Competition is a ZIFF initiative that awards three African short films for 3000 Euros each.
The Awards have been presented at ZIFF since 2011 following the demise of the Senegalese director Sembene Ousmane, regarded as the “Father of African Cinema”.
Throughout the years, this section has showcased some genuinely inspirational works in the fields of short fiction and documentary by figures such as Ramata-Toulaye SY (Senegal), Samir Ahmed (Egypt), Ekwa Msangi (Tanzania), Marie-Clementine Dusambejambo (Rwanda).
Through their website, ZIFF noted 17 film projects are to showcase at the competition this year. They added Tanzania leads in the lineup category with four films vying for the awards.
“The competition has greatly impacted Tanzania in recent years, with one of the first winners being Ekwa Msangi with her comedy Soko Sonko (in 2009).
“This year, we have Mwandishi by Juma Saada, a horror genre film which has won best film in the Tanzania Film Awards in 2021.”
Through the website, it shortlisted those movies, including Katope, Mwana Hiti, Haikaeli and Nia.
Katope is a new film directed by Walt Mzengi. Mzengi is a Netflix award winner in 2022. It is a film with high production values shot in Dodoma and comes only a few weeks after its premiere by Netflix International.
Mwana Hiti, by Nicholas Mwakatobe and Haikaeli Kinyamagoha, is the only documentary in the Tanzania list and an exciting prospect. The last film is Nia by Azad Wastara, a new trendsetter with a science fiction approach.
But these Tanzanian films face stiff challenges from movies like Act of Love (Kenya), Neb Tawn (Egypt) and In the Stillness (Nigeria).
The Award structure has designed to reward excellence in short film production and to encourage the production of new short films, including short documentaries.
The festival has also decided to award not just one but three films to ensure that as many filmmakers as possible are encouraged to make creative films through the Sembene Ousmane Prize.
The Sembene Ousmane Film Prize invites Africans and Africans in the diaspora (working in collaboration with Africans in the continent) to enter their short films to compete for the three prizes during ZIFF 2023.
Each of the three winning films will take home 3,000 Euro, specifically earmarked to produce a new short film to be ready by ZIFF 2024.
It is urged to submit the scripts and a production plan for the new films four months before the awarding.
This ongoing process will simultaneously acknowledge and reward filmmakers for their efforts while contributing to the short-film format’s sustainability.