After four days of film viewing at the 20th edition of the Zanzibar International Film Festival, controversy has struck. A Zimbabwe made UK film was stopped from screening by the film board at one of the venues at Stone Town in Zanzibar.
According to festival officials, the film titled Escape rated 16 which was shot in Zimbabwe was full of erotic scenes and did not fit in the public viewing category and that is why it was stopped after only 10 minutes.
This is the first time that a film that has been selected by the festival and has been entered into competition but blocked from being screened.
Ironically, this same film which is directed by Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska and her co-director Joe Njagu, earlier this year attracted great interest at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival 2017.
Speaking to The Citizen, festival director Fabrizio Colombo said it was only natural that they had to stop the screening after some 10 minutes because there was no way they could continue.
“Yes, the film was stopped and that is because there were several sex scenes that made some of the audience members uncomfortable and the laws of the country does not allow this,” said the festival director.
He, however, said the film was still in contention for the different awards and it was up to the jury to see if at all it deserves to win.
The film maker who was also available for the screening session, Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska, expressed disappointment with the decision to shelve screening of the film.
“I am disappointed by the level of censorship here in Zanzibar because I have seen films that screened at the festival in the old Fort which not only featured rape and extreme violence but also full of frontal nudity,” she said.
She adds: “What is the issue here? Is the kiss between two consensual adults more dangerous and immoral than representation of military forced violence against women and children?”
According to her, cultural collaborations were key towards changing the future of a world that is torn by conflicts stemming from misunderstandings.
“This goes beyond being pleasant and seeing politically correct things. It means we really struggle to understand each other through creative works. Escape is a product of such collaborations and I stand by it,” she said.
‘Escape’ is inspired by classic Hollywood film of David Lynch in which a mixed race stranger searching for a father he had never known. He arrives in town and immediately gets involved in a variety of mysterious things.
Witchcraft, murder and a deathbed confession add to the heady brew