DER Documentary

Khalfan and Zanzibar


by Lina Fruzzetti, Alfred Guzzetti, & Ákos Östör
color, 25 min, 2000




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Khalfan and Zanzibar is an anthropological documentary shot on digital video — a new departure for the filmmakers, who previously worked exclusively with 16-mm film. Three separate topics are woven together in this innovative project: 1) the life and work of Khalfan Hemed Khalfan, founder of Zanzibar's Association of the Disabled; 2) scenes from the lives of Zanzibar's disabled — job skill training, a class for deaf children, a soccer scrimmage; 3) the history and culture of Zanzibar.

This video is a study of Mr. Khalfan Hamid Khalfan and the handicapped people's organization Mr. Khalfan founded and continues to run. Mr. Khalfan, a charismatic figure well known in Zanzibar, is himself wheelchair-bound and oversees the tasks of representing, training, and helping handicapped people throughout the island state. Mr. Khalfan coordinates the efforts of donor agencies, state and federal governments, politicians and development experts, but he is not paid by the government and does not belong to any political party. For many years a high school principal, he looks on his work as primarily an educational one, "raising consciousness" about the needs and potential contributions of people with handicaps.

Not a portrait film pure and simple, Khalfan and Zanzibar's differentiation is to place the protagonist in Zanzibar culture, history, ethnicity, religion and everyday life. It intersperses interviews, scenes of Mr. Khalfan's daily chores at work and at home, handicapped people at work and leisure activities, and footage of Zanzibar (with innovative use of superimposed texts discussing history, ethnicity, politics, and Islam). The challenge of the video is to integrate, through visual form and style, the diverse materials mentioned above, in a single unfolding film structure.


Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Certificate of Merit, INTERCOM Competitions of the Chicago International Film Festival, 2000
Best International Documentary, Brooklyn Film Festival, 2000
Academic Look International Film Festival, Lisbon, Portugal
Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, New York, 2000
Center for Cross Cultural Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 2000
Seagull Media Centre, Kolkata, India, 2001
Dialektus Film Festival, Budapest, Hungary, 2002
5th World Congress of Anthropological Sciences, Florence, Italy, 2003
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London

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