Culture The Beauty of Africa

Unforgettable Moments at Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023

Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023
Written by Teresa Mwangi

The Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023 (ZIFF) is yet again casting light on the Island of Zanzibar in a beautiful way.

This marks the 26th edition of the festival also known as the Festival of the Dhow Countries giving another week to delight in local films. If you are in Zanzibar for the festival this year, start by completing your registration at the Festival Office in Ngome Kongwe (Old Fort). You get the needed accreditation to be here.

Non-locals are required to purchase a festival ticket for $5 which allows them access to all venues. Also, they can attend all events as visiting filmmakers. Locals enjoy a free screening of films at the Old Fort.

Zanzibar Film Festival 2023 Dates

Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023 official dates are June 24 to July 2. This week-long event is East Africa’s largest film and cultural festival and also the most decorated in Africa. Its history goes back to 26 years ago and a lot has changed since then. Martin Mhando, a celebrated Tanzanian filmmaker founded ZIFF in 1997 as a way to foster cross-cultural heritage.

Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023

Zanzibar International Film Festival. Photo/The Citizen

His intention was to honour the rich cinematic history of Africa, and started off with only several films included in the first and preceding editions. Stone Town hosted the first leg of the festival and eventually drew the attention of many other filmmakers in Tanzania. With a focus on African films and the African diaspora, the festival presents a wide variety of films, including documentaries, shorts, animations, and feature films.

The festival ZIFF is crucial in supporting new talent and promoting African films. Additionally, it provides African filmmakers with the perfect platform to present their work and network with other like-minded filmmakers across the world. With ZIFF’s existence in the last 26 years, the festival plays a significant role in promoting intercultural communication and understanding between African and foreign audiences.

What Happens At Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023?

In theatres all throughout the island, some of the most intriguing and innovative films from Africa and beyond are exhibited each year. ZIFF has a long tradition of showing the best film from throughout the world, from world premieres to regional films.

The Festival aspires to promote international cinema as art, entertainment, and business while fostering human rights, freedom, and conversation. Through various programmes, the festival targets a large audience that is typically not the focus of film festivals; this is what makes ZIFF unique.

In addition, the festival significantly contributes to greater knowledge of filmmaking with its exclusive programmes.

Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023 also features a collaborative hybrid platform to reach a broader audience. Mhando describes this development over the years as a major milestone in creating a festival of festivals.

“No longer is a festival about a place alone, but a festival is also about its creative structures, its sustainability as well as its contribution to the multi-colored garden of world cinema,” he says.

Zanzibar International Film Festival Awards Categories

They include the following:

  • Best Short film
  • Best Feature film
  • Best Animation
  • Best Feature from Dhow Countries
  • Best Documentary
  • Best Short from Dhow Countries
  • Best Film from International
  • Best TV Programme Best WEB Series
  • Best East African Film Best TV Series

Are There Film Festivals in East Africa?

Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023 tops as East Africa’s biggest film festival but there are a few others in the region. Among them is:

Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023

Zanzibar International Film Festival. Photo/Hot Secrets

Mashariki African Film Festival

It is the biggest film festival in Rwanda. It was established in response to a rapidly expanding film audience and a desperate need for a film exchange between Rwandan filmmakers, and the African diaspora.

Nairobi Film Festival

The Nairobi Film Festival is a significant annual film event in Kenya held in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. It includes a wide range of films from Kenya, Africa, and beyond, including dramas, comedies, documentaries, and cartoons. The festival strives to support up-and-coming directors by giving them a stage.

Kilimanjaro Film Festival

Kilimanjaro Film Festival provides a platform for filmmakers to network, engage with the audience and promote regional films.

Amakula International Film Festival

Uganda’s capital, Kampala hosts the annual Amakula International Film Festival. Its aim is to support independent African filmmakers and give them a platform to display their work.


Zanzibar International Film Festival 2023 is an incredible platform telling the world about the beauty of East Africa in a different way. You learn there is a lot more to Zanzibar beyond its pristine beaches.

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About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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