The Zanzibar International Film Festival is currently accepting applications for all African films (including African Diaspora) and films from the Dhow Countries’ region- South East Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, The Persian Gulf, Iran, Pakistan, India and the Indian Ocean Islands. Films must be have been produced after 2021. ZIFF reserves the right to accept any films with a specific interest to the festival.

Films should preferably depict the Festival theme; Finding Identity which conveys the idea of merging concerns in a global village, cultural encounters, engagement and exchange. Films reflecting the theme of global cultural interaction, cultural encounters or sociocultural commentary will be given priority. Films must have been completed no later than March 12, 2023. We will accept submissions of works in progress only after agreement with ZIFF management. The Submission Deadline is 12th March 2023. The festival reserves the right to also invite films for screening at ZIFF.

The ZIFF Jury will offer the Dhow Awards in the following Categories:
- Feature films
- Documentary
- Zanzibar Film
- Short/Animation
- East African Films
- Bongo Movies

The ZIFF Board will offer the following Awards:

- Chairperson’s Award
- Life Achievement Award
- The SIGNIS Jury will present its Award to a film that is deemed to exemplify universal and spiritual values that enhance human dignity, justice and tolerance through the artistic application of cinematic expression.
- THE European African Film Festivals AWARD: Awarded to a film deemed the best African film in competition.
- Other Special Awards as will be agreed by the Festival management.

The main competition (the Golden Dhow and Silver Dhow) is only for filmmakers from the Dhow countries. These include Countries of the Indian Ocean Rim and Indian Ocean Islands, including Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan and India; All African countries.
ZIFF competition categories are: Best Feature films, Documentary, Short/Animation, East African Films, and The ZIFF Board will offer the following Awards: Chairperson’s Award and Lifetime Achievement, Other competitions are open to the specified categories of entries and includes the following sections:
• Official competition: This section is reserved for feature and short films, fictional or documentary films shot on film or DV, by African AND Dhow Country directors.
• Documentary section: This Section is Open to all countries in all formats and genres..
• Films Out of Competition: This section is open to all films including festival screening partnerships.