The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, which ended on 26 June, reports that the most popular local film and in fact the overall audience favourite at the festival was Khalid Shamis’ Imam & I.
A tribute to Shamis’ grandfather, the influential 1960s Imam Abdullah Haron, Imam & I is an exploration of the Muslim community’s participation (and lack thereof) in the anti-Apartheid struggle. The film sold out its three screenings, as well as an additional screening put on due to audience demand. Eighty-one percent of audience respondents rated the documentary as “excellent”.
Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-winning Inside Job was the favourite international film, and the second most popular film overall. This scathing dissection of the global financial crisis sold out one of its Cape Town screening and was the second most watched film during the festival, after Simon Bright’s Robert Mugabe: What Happened?
Disney’s wildlife blockbuster African Cats was the second most popular international film, followed by Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, an astonishingly honest portrait of the groundbreaking comedian at 75. These were also the third and fourth most popular films overall respectively.
Mama Goema: The Cape Town Beat in Five Movements was the second most popular local film, and the fifth favourite overall. This multinational documentary – co-directed by Columbia’s Angela Ramirez, Portugal’s Sara Gouveia and South Africa’s Calum MacNaughton – is a love letter to Cape Town and its unique soundtrack. Mama Goema, which screened with Once Upon a Day: Brenda Fassie, sold out three of its five screenings at Encounters.
The third most popular local film, and the sixth favourite overall, was Lauren Beukes’ Glitterboys and Ganglands, the colourful story of three contestants at Miss Gay Western Cape. It sold out three of its four screenings during the festival.
This year’s Encounters had a record 22 sellouts over the 18 days; these included Robert Mugabe: What Happened?; From B-Boys to Being Men and Zip Zap: A Social Circus; Porselynnkas Dokiementer; The Creators; Forerunners – South Africa’s New Black Middleclass; and Mining for Change: A Story of South African Mining.
Opening up the world to South Africans each year, Encounters is widely acclaimed as Africa’s most prestigious documentary festival. This year’s selection featured 37 films from 14 countries and five continents, including 11 world premieres, 19 South African films and 17 international films.
“We’ve seen an increased interest and a marked improvement in the local content this year,” says Festival Directo r Mandisa Zitha. “Between the sell-outs, the lively Q&As after the films, and the extensive press coverage, we’re very happy with how this year’s festival went.”