20th edition of IIFF wows Harare

IIFF 2023 was by accounts from many sectors from seasoned filmmakers to the general film lover an outstanding success. Featuring an engaging film selection and a wide programme of film-centred events in it’s five-day programme, the event impacted both the industry and lay audiences.

IIFF 2023 kicked off with a well-attended opening ceremony at the Alliance Française on the 28th of November, where Mr Emile Mabita of the European Commission in Zimbabwe opened the festival. The opening film, “Nome” (Guinea Bisau, 2023), was screened to an all but full cinema. The presence of “Nome” director, Sana Na N’Hada and the film’s lead actress Binete Undonque, elevated the opening ceremony head and shoulders above previous editions of the festival and above other film festivals in the country, as the funding shortage in the industry has in the recent past prevented festivals from hosting foreign guests, who could do much to inject a dose of vibrancy and competitiveness into the industry. Sana Na N’Hada’s Q&A session revealed both the respect the filmmaker’s opus commanded from the local audience and his close personal relationship with the revolution against Portuguese colonisation depicted in the film. Undoque spoke about the benefits to a young actor of working with an experienced director. Local filmmakers were eager to pick the director’s brain with their questions.

The opening ceremony was also attended by IIFF’s other international guests – jury member Ms Zanele Mbethu, chair of Sisters Working In Film & TV (SWIFT), and the creator of the Pan-African Audiovisual and Cinema Observatory (OPAC) Souad Houssein from France and Djibouti who was IIFF 2023’s President of the Jury.

Screenings kicked off at B2C Batanai Gardens, Alliance Française and at Dzivarasekwa and Hatcliffe Community Halls the following morning, where the line-up included select film screenings and embassy receptions. The Australian Embassy hosted a special screening at Reps Theatre in Belgravia, while the Netherlands Embassy held two receptions at the Alliance Française after their screenings.

In addition to screenings, the festival programme included three master classes. Director Sana Na N’Hada facilitated a directing masterclass during which he emphasized the importance of planning, noting that budgets, while important, are always negotiable and should not stand in the way of making a film. Zimbabwean filmmaker Tomas Brickhill led a producing masterclass at which he gave his Zimbabwean colleagues tips on how to be a successful producer. The IIFF 2023 training programme wound up with Zanele Mthembu’s pitching master class, held at the Alliance Française.

To further the agenda of African women’s filmmaking, ICAPA Trust, SWIFT and OPAC representatives convened a meeting on the margins of the festival, in an initiative spearheaded by ICAPA Trust. The objective of this historic meeting of three organisations led by African women was to draft and sign an agreement to collaborate in the areas of training, women’s film festivals, including African women’s film awards and fundraising.

The festival ended on December 2 with the Awards Ceremony, which was hosted by the United States Embassy in Harare. Audiences were mesmerised by the closing film “The Last Queen” (Algeria, 2023, dir. Adila Bendimerad & Damien Ounouri), which was screened following a welcome address by the US Embassy Political & Economic counselor, Benjamin Pierce. “The Last Queen” tells the story of Queen Zaphira, a historical heroine from Algiers who resisted invasion and challenged the male-dominated system.


The Awards Ceremony, in which twelve trophies were awarded, took place following the final screening. While the closing film received awards for Best Script and Best Director, Germany turned out to be another big winner with two German films taking the top award in their categories. Opening film “Nome” and “Sira”, (Senegal 2023, dir. Apolline Traore), also did themselves proud with wins in other categories, the Audience Prize and World View. The curtain then came down on IIFF 2023 in Harare, while the festival team prepared to travel to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, for the Bulawayo leg of the festival. The full list of awards, winners and nominees is given below.


Main Competition

1. Best Script

Before Now & Then - dir. Kamila Andani, Indonesia, 2022

My Donkey, My Love & I - dir. Caroline Vignal- France, 2020

Last Queen, The - dir. Adila Bendimerad & Damien Ounouri -Algeria, 2023


2. Best Actress

Before Now and Then - Happy Salma- Indonesia, 2022

Dalva- Zelda Samson- France, Belgium, 2023

Nome- Binete Undonque- Guinea Bissau, 2023


3. Best Cinematography

Before Now & Then – dir. Batara Goempar – Indonesia, 2022

Dalva - dir. Emmanuelle Nicot - France, Belgium, 2023

Last Queen, The - dir. Adila Bendimerad & Damien Ounouri, Algeria, 2023


4. Best Depiction of a Woman

Before Now & Then - dir. Kamila Andani, Indonesia, 2022

Dalva - dir. Emmanuelle Nicot, France, Belgium, 2023

Nome - dir. Sana Na N’Hada , Guinea Bissau, 2023


5. Best Director

Before Now & Then- dir. Kamila Andani, Indonesia, 2022

Dalva - dir. Emmanuelle Nicot, France, Belgium, 2023

Last Queen, The - Adila Bendimerad & Damien Ounouri, Algeria, 2023


6. Best Film

Before Now & Then by Kamila Andini – Indonesia, 2022

Last Queen, The - dir. Adila Bendimerad, Algeria, 2023

Nome -dir. Sana Na N’Hada, Guinea Bissau, 2023


7. Audience Prize

Anatomy of Time- dir Jakrawal Nilthamrong, Thailand, 2021

Dalva - dir. Emmanuelle Nicot- France, Belgium, 2023

Nome - dir. Sana Na N‘Hada, Guinea Bissau, 2023


8. Documentary Competition

Seven Winters In Tehran - dir. Steffi Nierderzoll, Germany, Iran, 2023

Writing With Fire - dir. Rintu Thomas & Sushmit Gosh, India, 2021

Yellow Ceiling, The - dir. Isabel Coixet, Spain, 2022


9. Short Film Competition

Age 45, At - dir. Prunuelle Sakofio, Central African Republic, 2023

Entirety: One’s Fulfillment - dir. Sumedh Madhukar Jadhav -India, 2023

Last Ranger, The - dir. Cindy Lee , South Africa, 2023


10. Zimbabwean Fiction Film Competition

Daughter Of The Soil-dir. Derick Manieca, 2023

Outsider, The -dir. Derick Nziyakwi, 2023


11. World View Competition

Borga - dir. York-Fabian Raabe – Germany, 2021

Sira – dir. Apolline Traore, – Senegal, France, Burkina Faso, 2023

Women of Rwanda – dir. Sophie King, Rwanda, Germany, 2023


12. New Man Competition

Borga - dir. York-Fabian Raabe, Germany, 2021

Most Beautiful Thing, A- dir. Mary Mazzio, United States of America, 2020

Nome - dir. Sana Na N‘Hada,Guinea Bissau, 2023


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https://theafricanselfiestick.pixieset.com/iiff/  THE AFRICAN SELFISTICK November 28 - December 2