Encounters Documentary Film Festival announces its 2017 film line-up


The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival will be taking place next month with an exciting line-up of over 60 acclaimed films.

From Oscar- nominated I Am Not Your Negro to Sundance winner Winnie and Nick Broomfield’s brutally realistic film of Whitney Houston – Whitney: Can I Be Me – these are just some of the most talked about documentaries on the international and South African circuits to be screened at the prestigious and much anticipated festival.

Events will take place from 1 to 11 June 2017 at the Labia Theatre, Nouveau V&A Waterfront and the Bertha Movie House in Cape Town, as well as at the Bioscope and Nouveau Rosebank in Johannesburg.

Highlights include:

– Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary, I Am Not Your Negro as spoken by visionary writer and social critic, James Baldwin on matters of racial hatred in America narrated by Samuel L Jackson.
– 2017 Sundance award-winning documentary director Pascale Lamche’s film Winnie on South Africa’s controversial anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela –Mandela’s rise and fall from grace.
– Internationally acclaimed film-maker Nick Broomfield’s 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.
– Oscar –nominated, Life Animated captures a real life story of an autistic boy who couldn’t speak for years until his family created an animated world of Disney characters so that they could talk to him
The Return of a President: After the Coup in Madagascar based on the return of democratically elected president, Marc Ravalomanana from exile in South Africa after a bloody coup.
– Syrian director Firas Fayyad’s frontline study Last Men in Aleppo on the unbroken cycle of devastation experienced by three reluctant heroes in Syria.
Tickling Giants gives a colourful portrayal 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.
– World premiere of South Africa director Lucy Witt’s, Dragon’s Lair, a thought provoking and courageous dissection of rape and abuse by her stepfather and confrontations with him as an adult.
– Vincent Moloi’s, Skulls of My People which looks at the struggle of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia seeking the return of the skulls taken by German scientists after the 1904 genocide.

In what has been a year of global political turmoil the line-up covers a wide range of thought-provoking, relevant and gripping topics from fake news in the age of Donald Trump in All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception and the Spirit of IF Stone, to Brexit in Brexitannia with British voters explaining their gut, nostalgic and sometimes absurd reasons to leave or remain in the European Union.

The killing of an 18 year old in Ferguson, Missouri that inspired the rise of the “Black Lives Matter’ movement is captured in Whose Streets while Stranger in Paradise takes an off the wall look at the complex plight of asylum seekers and refugees in an increasingly hostile Europe.

Encounters also focuses on South African issues:

Miki Redelinghuy’s, This Land examines the lives of villages once forcibly removed under apartheid and now under threat from a mining company in cahoots with the Entembeni Zulu Royal Family, while Aryan Kaganof’s, Metalepsis in Black is a daring account of the “Fees Must Fall’ movement gripping the country’s universities.

Bringing past political context to current topical debates, Sifiso Khanyile’s Uprize! highlights the 1976 protest action of student activists in Bonteheuwel, Langa and the Cape Flats with struggle stalwarts expressing their disappointment with the status quo, while Nomakhomazi Derwarvin’s, Indwe chronicles events that led up to the famous 1956 women’s march in Pretoria (world premiere) and, Troupes of War: Ditrupa (world premiere) juxtaposes black memory against white history.

Helping to conceptualise transformation are some socially relevant films featuring the work of a variety of artists. The much-anticipated world premiere of Goldblatt a biography of leading photographer David Goldblatt “s life’s work directed by Daniel Zimbler (with interviews with Nadine Gordimer and William Kentridge); Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Backis 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 and, the highly anticipated Deep Blue: Middle C by two-time Encounters audience award-winner, director Bryan Little which promises not to disappoint.

The Festival also offers an eclectic line-up of International features that include:

Oscar and BAFTA nominated, The Eagle Huntress, an empowering and awe-inspiring movie based on the true story of 13-year-old Aisolpan Nurgaiv, who became the first female in 12 generations of her nomadic Kazakh family to learn how to become an eagle hunter. Other features include the talented Dutch director, Samira Elagoz’s intimate encounters with strangers in Craiglist Allstars as well as Christina Clusiau’s exploration of the international big game hunting industry and the attendant conservation movement in Trophy.

Politics enters the world sports arena in Daniel Gordon’s, The Fall, as the dramatic story of South African track star Zola Budd and America’s Mary Decker in the grubby world of 1980s Olympic sport at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, to Maya Zinshtein’s expose of racism in the Beitar Jerusalem football team in Forever Pure while, the dark heart of the global workplace is laid bare in Machines on the Victorian conditions facing textile workers.

Other international favourites include Poland’s Anna Zamecka’s Communion, Bulgaria’s Tonislav Histov’s The Good Postman and Chile’s Maite Alberdi’s The Grown-Ups.

Favourites from the African continent include award-winning local director Riaan Hendricks’ world premiere of Country of Fishes, a fly on the wall look at fishermen in Hout Bay and, Eve Munyiri’s moving biography Waithria on colonialism and immigration is showcased.

African documentaries are well represented with The African Who Wanted to Fly from Gabon, Mama Colonel from the DRC and The Fruitless Tree from Niger.

Announcing the Swiss Focus

In partnership with Swiss Films, Encounters proudly presents Heidi Specongo’s Caheir Africain, which brings disturbing Central African testimonies of trauma at the hands of mercenaries and, Lauence Bonvin’s three compelling shorts After Vegas, Blikkiesdorp and Before the Flight Avant’envol.

Other Swiss must-sees are Jacques Mathey’s magical musical biography Jazz: The Only Way of Life; Jacqueline Zund’s existential masterpiece Almost There and Segio Da Costa’s delicately constructed debut feature film Rio Corgo about a Portuguese drifter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here