First Film Fest Captures Local Narratives

The inaugural Botswana International Film Fest was a vibrant exhibition of the nation’s artistic spirit and cultural identity. Staff Writer GOSEGO MOTSUMI reports


Last week in Gaborone, the local film industry confidently stepped into the inaugural Botswana International Film Festival (BIFF) eager to measure their creative prowess against global benchmarks.

Creatives had heeded to the call for film submissions where 194 were received through the Film Freeway platform and the jury diligently reviewed the submissions to present 83 officially selected films for the festival.

BIFF 2023 was a vibrant exhibition of the nation’s artistic spirit and cultural identity conveyed through the powerful medium of film.

Rich tapestry

Said the Minister of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare, at the opening: “Our stories, steeped in the rich tapestry of Botswana’s heritage, find a new voice in this visual format, connecting our past with the present and paving the way for future narratives.


“The film festival is a landmark event that symbolises our commitment to cultivating, diversifying, and elevating our creative industries to new heights.”

Themed “Introductions: Capturing Our Narratives,” the minister described the festival as the dawn of a future brimming with hope, distinction and national pride, showcasing Batswana’s inherent capability to match global standards in cinematic artistry. “The urgency for African nations to formulate robust strategies for their burgeoning creative sectors is growing,” he said.

Botswana’s emergence

“Botswana is ready to take its rightful place in these conversations, share insights, assert control over our narratives, and unlock value chain opportunities. We are transitioning into a new era that heralds Botswana’s emergence on the global cinematic stage.”

The film fest featured film experts from southern African and beyond who shared insights that provided a holistic view of the film industry, emphasising on creativity, authenticity, collaboration, and the importance of understanding various aspects of the filmmaking process.

The Vice Chairperson of Women in Film Botswana, Serena Mmifinyane, underscored the importance of mentorship for young filmmakers by guiding and helping them grow in experience and opening doors to networks globally.

Nigeria’s Nollywood 

Victoria Ogar of Nigeria’s Nollywood highlighted elements like touch and feel, positioning and the importance of mentorship for creating blockbuster material.

She encouraged collaboration across Africa for stronger productions and advised producers to infuse elements like tourism, traditions, language, food, and attire into films to showcase and sell what is unique about their countries.

Actor Maxwell Dichi stressed the importance of casting directors knowing what they are looking for in a character and directing the right actors for relevant roles. He advised actors to have professional profiles and authentic showreels.

Kaone Kario is Best Actress

Local film director Thabiso Maretlwaneng encouraged exploring wealth creation beyond repeating what has already been done. He suggested delving into historical documentation, biopics, wildlife documentaries, and diverse narratives for people to tell stories in their own voices.

The weeklong event of celebrating filmmaking was wrapped up with an awards ceremony where supermodel Kaone Kario bagged the Best Actress award.


Comedian and rapper William Last won Best Supporting Actor, Moreetsi Gabang scooped the Best Director award, Silent Screams won the Best Local Film, Lesego Madingwane emerged the Best Actor while Ke Nna scooped the Best Film Jury Award.