Every year, thousands of party lovers and film heart-throbs from all over the world flock to the Indian Ocean’s magical island of Zanzibar for the famous Zanzibar Film Festival. Zanzibar International Film Festival, or ZIFF as it is termed, is arguably the biggest multi-disciplinary art and cultural festival in Africa. Often a week-long fun-filled fiesta, Zanzibar Film Festival celebrates stand-out artists besides showcasing the continent’s films, music, and artistic panoramas.

Since its inception in 1997, the festival has grown annually spurring growth in the region and attracting thousands of eager promoters. Among the festival’s most ardent followers, the Festival of the Dhow Countries as it is often informally called is a must-go event. The festival is characterized by international discussion panels and workshops, screening of the best of local and international cinema and evenings of fun to dance the night away. While the evening’s Gala stands out as the most anticipated, the original purpose of the film festival is fusing diverse cultures, educating the world about the importance of arts and showcasing the best talents as well as presenting them all in the beautiful island of Zanzibar.

This celebration is a one-of-its-kind in the world and each year’s festivals are themed to reflect what the organization aims are. The whole Zanzibar Film Festival takes place over 10 days; although this is often extended with further screenings and parties. The festival dates are released by the managing body in early February with a late February deadline for submission of films to take part in the festival.

Even though the Zanzibar Film Festival is open to global submissions, competition for the Golden Dhow award and the Silver Dhow accolade; the two top awards at the ceremony are only open to selected filmmakers. Those filmmakers hailing from dhow countries that include countries of the Indian Ocean and the Indian Ocean rim islands; this means it is one of the few film festivals the Middle Eastern countries specifically Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan are eligible to compete. Filmmakers and producers from Africa will battles it out in the Sembene Ousmane Award Competition category.

While the wait for 2016’s event is already climaxing as the official days edge nearer, online submissions portals have already been opened and expiry was the 29th February of 2016. Through their website and social media, this non-profit organization regularly keeps its audience up-to-date on what to expect as the very day looms.

Zanzibar film festival 2016 facts

  • The festival will commence on July 9th 2016 and is scheduled to run until the 16th.
  • The opening ceremony will be within the  historic Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar
  • “Ndiyo hii Safari Yetu, ” :”This Journey of Ours”, will be the theme.
  • Currently, Zanzibar Film Festival has planned 15 programs spread over the ten days of celebrations. Local Zanzibar hotels will be offering a variety of Zanzibar packages and we are looking forward to welcoming you to Zanzibar during this time of culture.


For more details see their website: