Selma, a motion picture which tells the story of Dr Martin Luther King and the struggle for civil rights in the USA in the 1960’s, has been selected to open the annual Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF).
The movie received four nods for: Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Song at the recent Golden Globe Awards. It however won only the Best Original Song award.
The movie focuses particularly on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Dr King Jr, James Bevel, Hosea Williams and other civil rights activists. It has also been nominated for Best Picture and Best Song at the upcoming Academy Awards.
“ZIFF is proud to announce the opening night film of ZIFF 2015, to be screened in Zanzibar on July 18th will be the Golden Globe winning film Selma,” reads a statement from the festival organisers.
The statement says the story resonates with the 2015 ZIFF theme, Waves and Visions of Hope.
Festival Director, Martin Mhando says ZIFF prides itself on showcasing films with strong social messages. “In 2014 we opened ZIFF with the Mandela film, Long Walk to Freedom, and we are especially proud in 2015 to open with another international film that focuses on an icon of civil and human rights, Dr Martin Luther King Jr,” Mhando says.
The Director says Selma will be an inspirational way to open this year’s festival and will highlight ZIFF’s focus on hope and social change.” The movie also stars two actors of African descent, David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo, both British citizens of Nigerian descent.
“The film’s themes resonate with audiences across the globe and its universal message of human rights and dignity has special significance for Africa with its colonial and post-colonial struggles,” says a statement from ZIFF. Dr King Jr likened the American civil-rights movement to liberation struggles across Africa, particularly in South Africa. “In our struggle for freedom and justice in the United States, we feel a powerful sense of identification with those in the far more deadly struggle for freedom in South Africa.
“We know how Africans there, and their friends of other races, strove for half a century to win their freedom by non-violent methods,” Dr King Jr had said. He said there was much in Mississippi and Alabama to remind South Africans of their own country, yet even in Mississippi they could organise to register ‘Negro’ voters, speak to the press, and organise the people in non-violent action.
“But in South Africa even the mildest form of non-violent resistance meets with years of imprisonment, and leaders over many years have been restricted and silenced and imprisoned. Today great leaders – Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe – are among many hundreds wasting away in Robben Island prison.” The screening of Selma on July 18th will coincide with Nelson Mandela’s birth day, adding significance to the event.
The Zanzibar International Film Festival (Tanzania) is the longest running film-festival in East Africa, with global credibility and instant Pan-African recognition. It features international film and video screenings, and international retrospectives along with music and performances, main stage events, exhibitions, workshops and seminars. Every year ZIFF exhibits more than 100 films made in Africa, Middle East, Europe, Latin America, USA and Asia.