‘Zamora’ wins big at the 23rd Fespaco

Friday March 15 2013

By BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI

Zanzibari feature film Zamora won the Best Digital Fiction Feature Film category at the 23rd Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco) from February 23 – March 2.

Zamora, produced in 2012 and directed by Shams Bhanji, is the evolution of one man’s hidden desires and his quest to find true love.

Set in a mystical and mythological Zanzibar, the story revolves around Zamora, a vain artist and womaniser on a voyage of self-discovery. His passion for the unknown, a reckless adventurous lifestyle and a sordid past land him in nightmarish situations.

Through three separate emotionally charged relationships (with Zulfa, Saada and Zareena), Zamora almost becomes a victim of the confrontation between good and evil, rich and poor, love and lust.

“We give this award (best digital fiction film) to a beautiful meditative film from Zanzibar,” reads the jury’s verdict.

“The award means a lot to me, especially because this is my first feature film to be recognised at Fespaco,” Shams Bhanji told The EastAfrican.

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Over 100 films from 35 African countries competed at the event, which was held under the theme “African Cinema and Public Policy in Africa.”

The top prize, the Golden Stallion, went to French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis for his film Tey (Today). Tey examines the relationship between the living and the dead. Its main actor, Saul Williams, won the prize for best male lead.

The Silver Stallion went to the Algerian feature film Yema by Djamila Sahraoui. It is about a mother fighting for her family, evoking the Islamists’ effect on her country.

Senegalese Moussa Touré won the Bronze Stallion for La Pirogue (The Dugout). The Best Short Film award went to Les Souliers de l’Aid by Anis Lasoued of Tunisia. The Tunisian director Nadia El Fani won the Best Documentary award for his film Meme Pas Mal. The Best Screenplay award went to Moroccan Nabil Ayouch for Les cheveux de Dieu.

Zamora is the second East African feature film to win a Fespaco award since the pan-African festival started in 1972. The first was a comedy, Gito, l’ingrat, by Leonce Ngabo from Burundi in 1993, which won the Oumarou Ganda Prize and Best Actor awards.