A-Z of Encounters Film Fest

Everything you need to know about the documentary film festival

Encounters Film Fest

The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival runs 1-11 June, with screenings at The Labia, Cinema Nouveau at the V&A Waterfront, Bertha Movie House at the Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha and the Bioscope and Cinema Nouveau Rosebank in Johannesburg. Here's an A-to-Z of everything you need to know about this year's documentary film festival.


Oscar-nominated Life Animated is a real-life story of an autistic boy who couldn’t speak for years, whose family created a world of Disney characters so that they could talk to him.


Brexitannia has British voters explaining their gut, nostalgic and sometimes absurd reasons for leaving or remaining in the European Union.

Child abuse

The world premiere of South African director Lucy Witt’s Dragan’s Lair, is a thought-provoking and courageous dissection of rape and abuse by her stepfather and confrontations with him as an adult.

Duct tape

Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back is a portrait of Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan, who once duct taped his dealer to a wall and made a sculpture of a penitent Hitler. 


Oscar and BAFTA-nominated The Eagle Huntress is an empowering and awe-inspiring movie based on the true story of 13-year-old Aisolpan Nurgaiv, who became the first female in twelve generations of her nomadic Kazakh family to learn how to become an eagle hunter.


Favourites from the African continent include award-winning local director Riaan Hendricks' world premiere of A Country of Fishers – a fly-on-the-wall look at fishermen in Hout Bay.


This is the much-anticipated world premiere of Goldblatt, a biography of leading photographer David Goldblatt ‘s work directed by Daniel Zimbler and featuring interviews with Nadine Gordimer and William Kentridge.


Christina Clusiau’s exploration of the international big game hunting industry and the attendant conservation movement in Trophy.


Indwe chronicles events that led up to the famous 1956 Women’s March in Pretoria.


Jacques Mathey’s magical musical biography Jazz: The Only Way of Life.


Aryan Kaganof’s Metalepsis in Black is a daring account of the ‘Fees Must Fall’ movement gripping the country’s universities. 


Tickling Giants is an ebullient portrait of Bassem Youssef, the heart-surgeon-turned-comedian who became known as “the Jon Stewart of Egypt.” From Mubarak to Morsi and then El-Sisi, his show united the country but tested the limits of free press.


In partnership with Swiss Films, Encounters proudly presents Heidi Specongo’s Cahier Africain – disturbing Central African testimonies of trauma at the hands of mercenaries.


Vincent Moloi’s Skulls of My People is about the struggle of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia seeking the return of the skulls taken by German scientists after the 1904 genocide.


Talented Dutch director Samira Elagoz’s has intimate encounters with strangers in Craiglist Allstars.


Troupes of War: Ditrupa (world premiere) juxtaposes black memory against white history.


Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Nick Broomfield presents the intimate biography Whitney: Can I Be Me?  based on the tragic life of Whitney Houston, one of the most successful recording artist of all time.


Miki Redelinghuys' This Land examines the lives of villagers once forcibly removed under apartheid now under threat from a mining company in cahoots with the Entembeni Zulu Royal Family.


Syrian director Firas Fayyad’s film Last Men in Aleppo is a frontline study on the unbroken cycle of devastation experienced by three reluctant heroes in Syria.

Textile workers

The dark heart of the global workplace is laid bare in Machines, a film on the Victorian conditions facing textile workers.


Bringing past political context to current topical debates, Sifiso Khanyile’s Uprize! highlights the 1976 protest action of student activists in Bonteheuwel, Langa and on the Cape Flats with struggle stalwarts expressing their disappointment in the status quo.

Virtual Encounters

The Festival, in partnership with the Goethe Institute Johannesburg, brings their second edition of Virtual Encounters – an exhibition of creative multi-platform, documentary storytelling – to the festival. They are playing with the form, testing the boundaries and, most excitingly for us, we are starting to see more work coming out of the Global South. Four projects from New Dimensions are being presented, an initiative to support VR work across Africa. 


2017 Sundance Award-winning documentary director Pascale Lamche presents his film Winnie which details South Africa’s controversial anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela–Mandela’s rise and fall from grace.


Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro as spoken by visionary writer and social critic James Baldwin on racial hatred in America narrated by Samuel L Jackson.


The highly anticipated Deep Blue: Middle C  by two-time Encounters Audience Award-winning director Bryan Little promises not to disappoint.

Zola Budd

Politics enters the world sports arena in Daniel Gordon’s The Fall, the dramatic story of South African track star Zola Budd.

seen this?
Colour Theory
5 ways to wear shirts
Rahim Rawjee
5 tops to own