Poor start to film festival

HARARE - Poor planning rocked the highly-anticipated 13th International Images Film Festival (IIFF) as organisers failed to show the opening ceremony film.

Hundreds who had graced the opening ceremony at Ster-Kenikor cinema 3 opposite Eastgate in Harare were left disappointed and many walked out when the organisers changed the film.

“These people should have done a pre-run of the film to check all the settings, this is really disappointing,” said a frustrated man in the crowd before he stood up and left.

The opening ceremony,  which was supposed to start at 6pm commenced well after the time and by 7:40pm the organisers were still struggling to play the scheduled opening film Half of a Yellow Sun.

Michael Kudakwashe, a local comedian who was a co-master of ceremony at the event tried to step up but with his recycled jokes failed to calm the nerves.

“You came here to watch the film and now you are watching Michael K for free. Since I was supposed to be just an MC the price is going up,” he said.

The comedian had started by saying, “for everything big there are glitches,” but sadly the organisers failed to fix the glitches. They played and replayed the first few minutes of the film without sound before changing it for Imbabazi: the pardon.

Half of a Yellow Sun, a feature film by United Kingdom-based Nigerian Biyi Bandele, was supposed to be the main highlight of the festival which will end on August 23 in Harare, after which it will be taken to other towns and cities.

The 111 minute-long film, based on an award-winning novel on Nigeria’s Biafra civil war that took place from 1967 to 1970, features top British actress Thandie Newton who was born to a Zimbabwean mother and award-winning actor Chiwetelu Umeadi “Chiwetel” Ejiofor.

Half of a Yellow Sun was only approved last month by Nigerian censorship authorities more than a year after it was completed.

The censorship authorities expressed fears that revisiting a war in which one million civilians died from famine and fighting would re-incite ethnic tension.

Culture Fund executive director Farai Mpfunya had during the pre-launch press conference warned that if the organisers wanted to succeed they should prioritise keeping time as they had also delayed starting the press conference.

Culture Fund in partnership with the Swedish government and European Union are the main sponsors of the festival.

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