HARARE – The tourism sector would benefit greatly from a well-functioning film industry as that effect is seen through the development of film sectors such as Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and most recently Qatar.
Doreen Sibanda, the executive director of National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe said the film industry would provide employment for locals and foreigners alike, easily translating into travel through processes like outsourcing skills and trades on the production of a film.
“Culture is thus exchanged this way and above all, the world comes together through the weaving of one story,” Sibanda said.
She added that this year’s International Images Film Festival for Women, IIFF theme, ‘‘Women Alive: Women of Peace’ can uplift society and promote peace for future generations.
“Art plays a very crucial role in society as it, in its visual nature, is a signature of a nation’s spirit, conscience and identity.
“Art is a means to engage society be it with a particular message or to just exist as an object of beauty.
Film is a chief means of engagement, it is the most accessible and highly followed mode of art on the planet with a devotee base that ranges from the common man to the aristocrat,” said the national art gallery director during the official closing of the Harare IIFF.
Sibanda said one of the greatest filmmakers, was a woman -— Leni Reifenstahl — known for her 1936 work, Olympia, which detailed the Olympics in Berlin under the Third Reich.
“Despite pressure from the Reich to edit out scenes such as Jessie Owens’ success and cutting out what the propagandists considered undesirable the filmmaker had the bravery to stand by her story and present a work that was strewn with poetry and sublime visual device such as the simile links between athletes and animals.
“Platforms such as the IIFF facilitate the development of the industry, giving women opportunity to tell stories that are steps away from the mass market; stories that are presented to communicate to the inner being and to address relevant issues.”
The opening ceremony in Harare on August 23 was accompanied by music from Diana Wendorochena and Wendorochena Band that performed their hit song Chii Chinonzi Rudo?
The festival was officially opened by Professor Hope Sadza, the vice chancellor of Women’s University in Africa.
Opening films included the Zimbabwean French production Freestate, a 2013 production by Martha Ferguson and Nairobi Half Life, a German-Kenyan 2012 production.
Special events included the ‘Women’s Labour Issues in the Arts Industry’ talk held at the Alliance Francaise while local women in the film industry and other creative arts met and shared their experiences in the Zimbabwean creative arts industry.
The festival also provided a platform for women in the creative arts to network, bond and build their dreams in a relaxed, safe environment.
IIFF 2013 Harare festival curtain came down on Saturday at the Book Cafe with film awards in 14 categories.
Another highlight of the festival was a documentary filmmaking talk with visiting filmmaker Iara Lee at the US Public Affairs Section.
Lee was set to have a session with journalism students from the Harare Polytechnic and the Christian College of Southern Africa as well as aspiring filmmakers.
She is a Brazilian of Korean descent, an activist, filmmaker, and founder of the Cultures of Resistance Network, an organisation that promotes global solidarity, supports peace with justice projects and brings together artists and change makers from around the world.
IIFF 2013 also sees the campaign on women’s labour issues in the arts and culture industry. Female artists met to discuss labour issues in the Culture and film industry.
This event will lay the groundwork for the campaign to reduce all form of abuse in the industry.
“Creative women in Zimbabwe have worked hard for years but are still disgruntled with the treatment they have received.
Female artists are coming together to ensure that they get the respect and recognition they deserve.
During these sessions the women discussed different forms of abuse they have suffered in the industry and how to publicise and combat it using their creative skills,” said IIFF director Yvonne Jila (pictured).
Meanwhile, Jila said the festival returns to Bulawayo from today, September 5 to 7 in partnership with the United States Public Affairs Section. Screening will take place at the US library and at Amakhosi Theatre or at a community venue.
“The major highlights will probably be the screening of the films Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity and Suffering Grasses. The films have a message that cannot be ignored; they speak to everyone including the grassroots women.
“The films will screen at the American Corner from September 5 to 7, and at Tshabalala, Luveve and Mpopoma Youth Centres.”
Jila said IIFF Bulawayo will run under the theme "Women Alive: Women of Peace", with films being selected from the Harare Programme.
“Cultures of Resistance returns to Bulawayo following the coordinators’ recommendation that the film be screened again especially to the youthful audience most of whom are students and artists.
“Peretera Maneta, a 2005 production has specifically been selected also in response to alarming rates of child sexual abuse in Zimbabwe.
"Each screening will be followed by a discussion and for some films, filmmakers will be present to respond to questions from audiences as well as to share experiences with the viewers,” said Jila.
Among the films to be shown include Freestate, a film produced by Martha Ferguson and Daves Guzha, directed by Martha Ferguson with screenplay by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Melissa Webster and Martha Ferguson.
It is a contemporary love story set in Africa that explores the cultural tensions surrounding a woman’s desire and has a cast comprising Stephen Chigorimbo, Martha Ferguson, Kevin Hanssen, John Dennison and Sue Maclaren.
In the film Written in Tears, faced with gruesome and unimaginable bullying in an all-boys boarding school- a 13 -year- old boy Maru Nala turns to the only woman in his life for help, his mother.
Fate, however, has other plans, as the scenario he finds himself in is all too restrictive, denying him the chance to freely express himself to her.
Tortured and conflicted, Maru is left with nowhere else to turn and with the pressure and brutality endlessly mounting, he is ultimately driven to the edge, and prepares to take his own life.
Jila said the much talked about local film by Martha Ferguson got the prize for the best Zimbabwean film and best sound.