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IIFF 2022: From Films to Awards, What You Need To Know

About the International Images Film Festival for Women

BY Agnes Amondi

Sep 01, 2022, 08:13 AM

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If you love festivals, then here’s one for you. The International Images Film Festival for Women returns this year for its 19th edition after a two-year hiatus.

It’s held in partnership with the Internationales Frauen FilmFest Dortmund + Koln (IFFF) and the French Institute and is scheduled to take place between November 23 and 26th in Harare, Zimbabwe. 

As the event draws closer, here’s everything you need to know.

When did the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) start?

The International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) began in 2002 and is the only festival of its kind in Southern Africa. It is an annual event created to challenge the narratives and perceptions around women who are often seen as sexual objects. It is also intended to give women a platform to tell their own stories and celebrate their work in an industry that is male-dominated.

How does the IIFF work?

A call for film submission is made. This year, the window opened on July 21 and closed on August 15. If you are interested in submitting your film in future - well the window has closed for 2022 - this is what you need to do.  

  • Your film must be centred around a woman and have one take up a leading role.
  • It has to show the positive contributions women make to society. 
  • Touch on the issues that affect women. 
  • Examine the experiences of African women. 
  • Explore how the wider community advances the course of African women in the continent and in the diaspora.

The films to be screened at this year's event were produced between January 2017 and June 2022. Also, if you'll not find them online it's because they shouldn’t have been published online or screened in Zimbabwe three months before the festival.

During the event, at least 20 films, yet to be determined will be screened. Discussions and workshops surrounding the screening of the films will be held.

What is the theme of this year’s event?

The theme of IIFF is Women at Crossroads. It is meant to explore the difficult decisions women have to make with regard to their future. 

Studies show that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected women economically, socially, emotionally and physically and fears emerged that all the gains made to achieve gender equality might have been eroded. 

This forces women to reevaluate their lives and thus leaving them in a vulnerable position. Hence the theme of the festival is geared toward exploring alternative paths for women. 

Why is the IIFF celebrated?

Firstly, it gives female filmmakers, both on-screen and behind-the-scenes an opportunity to share their work. Women are still underrepresented in the film industry and events like this give them the much-needed exposure to demonstrate their abilities and get recognition from industry peers. 

Secondly, they are able to own and shape the narrative of their experience, which has often been told through a male perspective, hence the sexualisation of women or has been told through a foreign lens thus the flawed narrative of the angry black woman among others. 

Thirdly, the filmmakers are able to share their work with the wider public. Making a film is one thing and getting it in front of the audience is another. The IIFF bridges this gap for emerging filmmakers. Plus, the public gets to interact with films they don’t find on mainstream platforms. 

Apart from that, the event is hosted under the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA) which runs other programs like the national and international outreach festivals. 

The national outreach engages community members in the socio-economic affairs of women whilst its international version invites other countries to participate through mini-festivals.

What kind of films are screened at the IIFF?

The IIFF screens local and international films of different genres; documentaries, features, animation and short films. The films to be screened are yet to be confirmed and we will bring you that as soon as we get more information.
Gessica Geneus
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That noted the opening and closing films are confirmed. Haitian director, actress and writer Gessica Geneus will deliver the opening film titled “Freda”. The film revolves around the dilemma of whether a mother and her two daughters should leave their home country (Haiti) and start a new life elsewhere or stay and contend with the challenges of crime and economic hardships
Meanwhile, the closing film, Actual People is by American-Asian film director and writer Kit Zauhar. The feature film, in which Kit stars as Riley follows her in her final year in university and how she deals with a lack of direction in her love life, family and future.

How many films have been shortlisted for this year’s event?

Contrary to events of previous years, this year's festival will be a small-scale affair. The IIFF expects to screen 20 films as opposed to its usual 60, as it is returning after a two-year break.  

Submissions for films closed on August 15  and the shortlisting is ongoing thus we will update this section as and when more information is available. 

What awards does the IIFF present?

1. Best Depiction of a Woman
This prize is awarded to the film that best captures a woman's journey

2. Best Zimbabwean Film
Presented for the best Zimbabwean film that most adequately reflects the spirit of the festival.

3. World View 
Presented for the most progressive film that in the judgment of the jury offers local viewers an opportunity to see the world outside the one in which they live.

Read More: A Chat With Tsitsi Dangarembga