Film director and screenwriter Sihle Hlophe’s short film, As I Am has
been selected for the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), which runs from 18
to 26 July in Stone Town. ZIFF is the longest running film festival in East Africa, with
global credibility and instant Pan-African recognition.
Festival director Martin Mhando commented, “Sihle Hlophe’s control of the craft and
integrity of theme portend a new voice and force in African cinema”.
This will be the African premiere of the film, which had its world premiere at the
Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, USA and its European premiere at the
Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland. As I Am is Hlophe’s
fiction directorial debut, though the filmmaker has directed and written a handful of
documentaries. The film is about a soft, sensitive man who has to learn to assert
himself when his chauvinistic younger brother tries to hijack their father’s funeral
The film is unique in that it is in SiSwati, a minority language that is largely
underrepresented in the local film industry. “I would go so far as to say it is
probably one of the first SiSwati films of cinematic quality’, says Hlophe, who is
very excited about promoting the use of her mother tongue in the local and
international film industry. The film was funded by the National Film & Video
Foundation (NFVF) and produced by veteran filmmakers Ramadan Suleman and
ZIFF received a record 419 submissions this year. The list of official selections
contains 25 feature films, 44 shorts and 27 documentaries from over 30 countries
across the globe. The entries came from 38 countries with the largest number of
entrants coming from Germany. The opening film will be Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-
nominated film, Selma.
Visit the ZIFF website for more information.