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Cultural Influences on Zanzibar Are in Focus at Film Fest

June 29, 2002|From Associated Press

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania — Zanzibar's annual film festival opened Friday, bringing together filmmakers and musicians from Africa and other parts of the world to show their movies and perform their music in historic venues across this Indian Ocean archipelago.

The fifth annual Festival of the Dhow Countries focuses on the culture of countries that influenced Zanzibar over the last millennium, influences carried from India to the Arabian Sea and down Africa's eastern coast by dhows, wooden ships with triangular sails.

Opening performances highlighted the varied cultures touched by dhows: A Palestinian band and a Zanzibari group entertained guests, followed by a screening of "Lumumba," a movie about former Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, directed by Haitian Raoul Peck.

"Lumumba" is a political thriller about Congo's first elected prime minister, slain in 1961 during the rocky months after Congolese independence from Belgium.

More than 100 films will screen at the festival, which runs through July 13.

Some will be shown in this semiautonomous region's villages using mobile screens.

The islands are about 25 miles off the Tanzanian coast and have an estimated population of 900,000.

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