London School of Film, Media and Design

'Zanzibar Soccer Dreams' shows women's empowerment through sport

Zanzibar Soccer Dreams, a feature documentary film directed by Catalin Brylla (UWL Senior Lecturer in Film) and Florence Ayisi (University of South Wales), premiers at the Canadian Sport Film Festival on 22 May 2016. The film continues the story of Ayisi's 2007 documentary, 'Zanzibar Soccer Queens,' on which Brylla also collaborated. 'Zanzibar Soccer Dreams' looks at how women's football has grown as an official sport for girls in schools across Zanzibar, and the impact it has had on women's empowerment and equality.

The film is about how one soccer team has initiated a passion for women’s football in Zanzibar, which has also resulted in football being taught to young school girls - a novelty that still meets with resistance from conservative parents. Catalin Brylla, director, UWL Senior Lecturer in Film

Women's Fighters FC from Zanzibar Soccer DreamsThe film shows how football and the making of the first documentary impacted on the lives of Zanzibar’s first women's football club, Women Fighters. The team had to fight against religious and cultural gender prejudices just to play a sport they love. Now, after an invitation to play in Germany, the team members have seen a rippling effect of positive change both in opportunity and outlook for women in their society.

Dramatic shifts over the last eight years in Zanzibar have enabled women to find new areas of work, more independence, and the conviction to stand up to cultural and religious traditions holding them back. In a time when Western media depicts a narrow view of African and Muslim culture, this film depicts instead how female empowerment and emancipation that come from within conservative communities can spark positive change.

The film will follow this with its African premier at the Zanzibar International Film Festival, 17-19 July. Outside of the festivals, 'Zanzibar Soccer Dreams' will soon be available on DVD. Brylla will also be presenting the work behind the project as part of the LSFMD research staff symposium on 18 May 2016.

Zanzibar Soccer Dreams movie still