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Encounters, Africa’s premier documentary festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg

 Encounters, Africa’s premier documentary festival  in Cape Town and Johannesburg

Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark, which is screening as part of Encounters’ Al Jazeera English showcase, won the International Television and Radio Prize at Amnesty International’s UK Media Awards last week. The controversial documentary is about the 2011 Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world. It also won The Foreign Press Association Documentary of the Year, the George Polk Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the Scripps Howard Jack R. Howard Award for Television Reporting, among other accolades.

Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark


Call Me Kuchu, one of the most acclaimed documentaries of 2012, will have its African premiere at The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, just after winning Best International Feature at Hot Docs in May 2012 and The Teddy Award at Berlin in February 2012. It’s the heartbreaking story of Ugandan activist David Kato, who returns from South Africa a liberated man and sets about campaigning for gay rights until his tragic assassination. It¹s especially topical as the terrifying Anti-Homosexuality Bill (aka. The Kill The Gays Bill) was reintroduced to the Ugandan parliament in February 2012.

Call Me Kuchu

Another highlight is The Island President, currently the jointly second best reviewed film of 2012 on critic aggregator site RottenTomatoes, with an average rating of 98% after its current US theatrical run. It tells the story of then Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, a Mandela figure who came back from exile to lead his country into democracy after a 30-year dictatorship. He’s immediately thrust into an even bigger struggle ­ as one of the lowest-lying countries in the world, the Maldives is barely above sea level, so if global warming continues at the present rate, the rising ocean will swallow his country within the next decade.

The Island President


Tiffany Shlain, the founder of both The Webby Awards (the Oscars of the internet) and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, will be attending Encounters for the African premiere of her debut feature-length film Connected, which won The Disruptive Innovation Award from Tribeca, among other international accolades.

Tiffany, who’s been recognized by Newsweek as “one of the women shaping the 21st century,” will also hold a workshop on The Cloud Filmmaking Manifesto on Monday, 11 June 2012, from 10am-12pm at Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking at The Foundry on Cardiff Avenue, Green Point. To book, email  .

It’s not just the international films that are must-sees; Richard Slater-Jones goes behind the rhino-poaching headlines in Saving Rhino Phila, while in Saying Goodbye Izette Mostert explores the remarkable story of Sean Davison, the UWC Professor who was charged with attempted murder in New Zealand after helping his mother to end the misery induced by terminal cancer.

Other highlights include Rebirth: What Was Billy Holiday Doing in Brixton?, South African Film and Television Award winner Steve Kwena Mokwena¹s tribute to the dearly missed House of Ntsako in Brixton; You Laugh But It’s True, about Trevor Noah; and Alekazam, about Hugh and Sal Masekela.

You Laugh But It¹s True

“This year’s programme is one of the strongest yet,” says festival director Mandisa Zitha, pointing to a lineup that includes 16 world premieres. “We’ve managed to secure some of the most talked-about documentaries from across the world over the last year. We have something for everyone, whether you’re interested in The Cape Epic (An Epic Tale); corrupt pharmaceutical companies (Fire in the Blood); diamonds (Port Nolloth: Between a Rock and a Had Place); emerging Free State rockstars (Rockstardom); female circumcision (The Cut); gender activism (Can’t Just Fold Your Arms); mother-daughter relationships (Umbilical Cords); Palestine (One Day After Peace and Fragments of Palestine); police corruption and the plight of the homeless in inner city Johannesburg (On The Edge); South African swimming (Breathe Again) or rugby (Progress); solutions to the shortages of rural doctors (Healers); or just Cocaine, Suicide and The Meaning of Life.”

Africa’s most prestigious documentary festival runs from 7-24 June 2012 at Nu Metro V&A Waterfront and The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town and at Nu Metro Hyde Park and The Bioscope in Johannesburg.

Previously announced highlights include:

·     Retrospective of SA’s first Oscar winner Jon Blair, with workshops

·     2012 Oscar nominees Pina & Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

·     Acclaimed documentaries on Paul Simon & Bob Marley

·     New films by previous Encounters winners Bryan Little & Cliff Bestall

·     Al Jazeera to sponsor Encounters, with showcase, including

African-themed docs, workshops and pitching forum


The National Film and Video Foundation is the primary sponsor of Encounters, which is made possible by the further support of Al Jazeera, The Cape Film Commission, Goethe-Institut, US Consulate General / AFS, The Times, HCI Foundation, Nu Metro, UCT, The Callsheet, What’s On, and CTV.

For more information visit .

Watch  more trailers:




Saving Rhino Phila


Saying Goodbye


Rebirth: What was Billy Holliday doing in Brixton


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