Home Authors Posts by Encounters Press

Encounters Press

Encounters Press
Encounters is Africa's premier documentary festival running in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Encounters South African International Documentary Festival turns 20

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival. The very first edition of the festival successfully ran with just 24 films.

Two decades and many stories later, this prestigious festival receives over a thousand film entries each year from across the globe, and hosts world-renowned industry speakers as well as hoards of emerging and renowned filmmakers who come together each year to hone their skills, tackle relevant issues and most importantly share the stories that are currently shaping our reality.

Reginald ‘Reggie’ Khanzi is this year’s guest festival director. A former director of the Apollo Film Festival in Victoria West in the Northern Cape, Khanzi currently holds the title of project director at the Apollo Development Association.

Encounters has a long, successful history with Apollo, having assisted Khanzi and his team with the programming and planning of previous editions. After a seven-year stint in government managing events, Khanzi is once again working in the film festival world and intends on improving the Apollo with the experience he will gain while serving as guest festival director for Encounters this year.

Khanzi expands: “They [Encounters] have a 20-year track record of providing opportunities for people like me, look what they have done for the status and production of documentary in this country; they’ve worked with four different broadcasters, securing commissions for local filmmakers, promoting their work and their international reputation! We have five international guests who are flying themselves here, paying for themselves nogal, because they want to be here at Encounters! I’ll leave here with a wealth of information, and I’ll have had the opportunity to connect with ‘new’ filmmakers and reconnect with filmmakers that I met all those years ago at the Apollo.”

Khanzi says that he started working on this year’s Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in April and has so far viewed countless film entries from local and international filmmakers for the 2018 edition.

“A long-list had been drawn up, and I’ve watched about 100 films, sat in meetings discussing the merits of each, devising a wide-ranging programme looking for tenderness, laughter, sadness, greatness, compassion, intrigue, our current affairs, our history, and a reasonable spread of films from around the world. It’s been hard – some films I really wanted we could not afford, as we’re working on a shoe-string budget, and we had to pass them up. I’ll say it again; it’s sad that Encounters does not have the support it deserves. I hope that it will not be as hard for the Apollo,” he says.


For the 2018 edition, Khanzi and his team have deliberately selected and scheduled more films made by women, as well as more films about women with ‘The Power of Womanhood’ as this year’s focused theme. This spotlight on women’s issues is driven by the global #metoo campaign, as well as by the need to tackle the issue of male-dominance in the film industry. Over half of the 40 films selected are by female directors, the selected films also focus on women who have made an indelible mark on history. Notable films in the 2018 line-up include:

The HotDocs Special Jury winner, Whispering Truth to Power, by Shameela Seedat, which chronicles Thuli Madonsela’s final year as our Public Protector.

Xoliswa Sithole’s Standing On Their Shoulders is a powerful relook at the 1956 Women’s March and what it means for women today.

Sisters of the Wilderness, directed by Karin Slater, focuses on the cultural and spiritual journey of five Zulu women who explore the bush for the first time.

In the South African shorts section Hannah Rafkin and Meg Robbins’ In Stitches, as well as Suzanne Moody’s Kill or Die, both tickle the funny bone while raising two very poignant issues – that of vernacular stand-up and the struggles of comedians.


With an impressive 70 titles, 43 features and nine world premieres; this year will see seven local filmmakers have their productions screened on the Encounters’ stage for the first time. These world premieres include Michael Cross’s The Fun’s not Over: The James Phillip’s Story; Freedom isn’t free: The Freedom Charter Today by Martin Jansen; Pluck: A film not just about Chicken by Joëlle Chesselet and Lloyd Ross; Rian Hendricks’s Ramothopo: The Centenarian; Sisters of the Wilderness directed by Karin Slater; Paul Myburgh’s The Story of Little Foot; and When Babies Don’t Come by Molatelo Mainetje.

Survivors, a film set in Sierra Leone, which tells the extraordinary account of a community’s response to the Ebola outbreak, will also be having its much-anticipated world premiere at Encounters 2018.


While 20 years is an exceptional milestone for the festival, a greater milestone is the centenary of the father of our nation – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. “We are pleased to honour uTata by screening the Oscar-nominated Mandela by Jo Mennel and Angus Gibson. It focuses on Mandela’s early education, personal relationships and the activism which led to his 27-year imprisonment for sabotage. Our guest, Sir Nick Stadlen will present Life is Wonderful: Mandela’s Unsung Heroes which celebrates the robust and intricate defence mounted by Bram Fischer and George Bizos,” Khanzi shares.

As always, several workshops and masterclasses will also take place during the course of the festival.

The HCI Foundation and the City of Cape Town will be partnering in a project to provide transport and tickets for previously disadvantaged individuals, organisations and students. Bertha Movie House at the Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha has been a long-standing partner of Encounters and will continue to provide free screenings at the centre as well as local transport to and from the screenings.

“I commend Encounters for the great work they have done over the years to reach this milestone, still standing and pushing hard. I can only imagine the number of challenges the festival has been through, I am really excited to be part of the team at this juncture and say to all the funders, the board, filmmakers and staff past and present – Halala Encounters Twenty!” Khanzi exclaims.

The 2018 Encounters South African International Documentary Festival takes place from 31 May to 10 June 2018 in Cape Town at The Labia Theatre, Cinema Nouveau V&A Waterfront, Bertha Movie House – Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha, The Bioscope Independent Cinema in Johannesburg, as well as Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank.

Encounters announce this year’s Youth Jury

Encounters, in partnership with Ster-Kinekor, is proud to present the Youth Jury of 2018.  Three jurors will adjudicate and present the EYE Award and cash prizes for the best South African shorts (less than 20 minutes).

The Youth Jury will act as ambassadors for their film schools whilst attending festival events, documenting festival activities, adjudicating a selection from the South African film programme at the festival and presenting the Encounters Youth Experience Award. The Youth Jury will serve as an inclusive mechanism, thereby bringing documentary cinema to a younger audience and encouraging this audience to actively participate in the process of the festival, promoting film literacy and local documentaries to new audiences.

Youth Jury reveal:

Khanyisile Mazibuko (23), is an actress, talk-show host and filmmaking student. A National School of the Arts alumni and the director of the award-winning short film, Zeroni, Mazibuko has co-hosted television feminist talk show, Rise and is currently completing her film production degree at the University of Cape Town.

Beth Ribeiro (20) is a final-year student in Screen Production and Drama at UCT.  While her heart lies in directing, she has a new-found love: cinematography. Excited for her career in South Africa’s film industry, she is motivated by the talent that surrounds her and propelled by the country’s political landscape.

Shari Mwanika (21) is an aspirant Ugandan filmmaker.  Storytelling is an extension of who she is and that passion has moulded her.  Mwanika believes that film has the power to absorb, communicate, empower, uplift and sing the symphonies of the silenced.

Sisters of the Wilderness set to premiere at Encounters

Sisters of the Wilderness, a new South African social impact feature documentary, directed by award-winning filmmaker, Karin Slater, will have its world premiere at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg in June; with further festival screenings at the Durban International Film Festival and at the Nature, Environment, Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) Congress in Durban in July, and at the Mzansi Women’s Film Festival in Johannesburg in August.

Set in the iMfolozi wilderness, South Africa, in the oldest game park in Africa, the iconic Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park, where the White Rhino was saved from extinction, Sisters of the Wilderness tells the story of five young Zulu women venturing into the wilderness for the first time on a journey of self-discovery, reminding them that we are all intimately linked to nature.

The film follows the women as they walk in big game country and camp under the stars, totally surrounded by wild animals. Exposed to the elements and carrying on their backs all they need for the journey, they face emotional and physical challenges, and learn what it takes to survive in the wild.

“We want to ‘transfer’ the audience to an ancient place where no barriers separate human and nature,” says creator/producer, Ronit Shapiro, of One Nature Films, whose experience in the iMfolozi wilderness and a meeting with South Africa’s legendary conservationist, the late Dr Ian Player, inspired her to make this film. “A journey into wilderness is an intense experience where one can expect to undergo a personal transformation and build leadership.”

Director Karin Slater says, “I was born in Empangeni and spent my early years, close to the iMfolozi wilderness. I have a deep love and connection to this area. I know what the wilderness has done for me over the years.”

Sisters of the Wilderness serves as a foundation for an outreach programme that will use multiple platforms to re-connect global audiences with nature.

The film also explores the plight of this wilderness area threatened by an open-cast coal mine on its border, as well as the severe poaching that is decimating the rhino population here.

Shapiro has engaged London-based, Evolutionary Films, as the film’s international sales agency.

Screenings at Encounters in Cape Town are on 2, 6 and 7 June and in Johannesburg on 10 June.

Encounters UCT Impact Bootcamp

The Encounters UCT Impact Bootcamp supported by Bertha Foundation offers you the opportunity to maximise the potential of your project by participating in a hands-on workshop on documentary film impact. The purpose of the workshop is to give you the tools to develop a concrete impact plan tailored to your individual film project.

On day one a morning of topic-specific workshops presented by experts will be followed by an afternoon of real world case studies where filmmakers, activists and distributors share their success and challenges. The morning of day two will see participants meeting with mentors who have worked successfully in the field of impact producing to refine their impact strategies.

You can participate with a finished film, a project in development or without a project if you would like to pursue a career as impact producer working on others’ films.

Facilitators include Anita Kanna, Nisha Naidoo and Liani Maasdorp. Case studies include Miners Shot Down, Strike a Rock, STEPS (Afridocs, Why Democracy? and Steps for the Future), Sunshine Cinema mobile cinema.

Participants will be selected from across South Africa. Only ten seats are available. The bootcamp is fully funded (including direct flights from major cities, accommodation, meals and airport transfers in Cape Town).


UCT Television Studio

Saturday, 2 June 9h00 – 17h00

Sunday, 3 June 9h00 – 12h00


You can participate with a finished film, a film in production or as an aspiring impact producer without a project.


If you have a film in production or have finished a film but still need to design an impact strategy, please send an email with subject Impact Bootcamp FILM + Your film’s title to uctdocimpact@gmail.com by 9h00 14 May 2018.

In the body of the email or attached (.doc / pdf) you must include the following information:

1. Project information

1.1  Title

1.2  Duration

1.3  Synopsis (max 200 words)

1.4  What kind of change/impact would you like to create with this film?

2. Biographical and company information

2.1  Name and Surname of the participant

2.2  Your role on the project

2.3  Production company name and website (if available)

2.4  Province and closest airport

2.5  Contact number

2.6  Email address

3. Link to a production trailer if available (or a sample of the film, max 10 min)

4. Current phase of production

5. Motivation: Explain how you and your project will benefit from participation


If you are currently an activist, an impact producer or are interested in impact producing as a career option, a film student, please send an email with subject Impact Bootcamp NO FILM + YOUR NAME AND SURNAME to: uctdocimpact@gmail.com by 09h00 on 14 May 2018.

In the email you must include the following information:

1. Biographical and company information

1.1  Name and Surname

1.2  Job title

1.3  Production company and website (if available)

1.4  Province

1.5  Contact number

1.6  Email Address

2. Background

2.1  Experience (particularly in film production, activism, project management or any other relevant fields)

2.2  Qualifications/courses/training (particularly in film studies, activism, project management or any other relevant fields)

2.3  Are you currently an activist? In what area/issue?

2.4  Are you currently an impact producer?

2.5  Are you interested in impact producing as a career, but haven’t worked as one yet?

3. Motivation:  How will you benefit from attending the Impact bootcamp and how do you intend to use the skills you learn?

A captivating line-up for Encounters 20th anniversary

The very first Encounters took place in 1999, screened 24 films and sold just over 2 000 tickets. Two decades on and it has firmly established itself as the premier non-fiction film festival on the continent, featuring compelling documentaries with strong narrative structures that are highly cinematic; films with thoughtful, character-driven storytelling that add a necessary dimension to our understanding of the news and the fake news, the hot-button issues, other people’s lives and, above all, ourselves and our place in the world.

The focus that has emerged from this year’s selection process is ‘The Power of Womanhood’, reflected by the fact that over half of the 40 films selected have female directors and many focus on women who have made an indelible mark on history, from Thuli Madonsela to Vivienne Westwood.

The opening night film, coming just weeks after it’s ‘in competition’ world premiere at Hot Docs – Toronto’s holy grail of documentary film fests – is Whispering Truth To Power. The film is human rights lawyer, Shameela Seedat’s powerful breakthrough as a filmmaker. This vital film tracks Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s first female Public Protector, as she builds her second case against erstwhile President Jacob Zuma. Through the story of Madonsela, her office and children, the film carefully navigates the major forces at play in South Africa today, charting various contested lines in the dual battle against corruption and inequality. “Post-apartheid South Africa has thrown out a messy and complex reality that we, here at home, are keen to confront,” director Seedat says, “I am keen to bring another type of African character to the international documentary audience. A strong, super-lawyer-woman in a position of power.”

From Ombud, mother, mediator and public hero to Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, video-artist Lorna Tucker’s first film, a definitive look at the life, fashion and activism of one of Britain’s most iconic and original designers. The film which premiered to acclaim at this year’s Sundance is a vibrantly entertaining yet intimate and poignant homage to Dame Vivienne Westwood, following her rollercoaster journey from being a failed housewife, to an outsider, a leading designer and green activist. With complete access to her private moments, it blends archive, beautifully crafted montage and insightful interviews with her fascinating network of collaborators – guiding us from a childhood in post-war Derbyshire to the runways of Paris and Milan.

Changing the history of British fashion required the strength of a woman – the 1956 march on the Union Buildings to protest the Pass Laws took 20,000. This is the starting point of Xoliswa Sithole’s Standing On Their Shoulders which has its premiere at the festival after being a participant in Encounters Rough Cut Lab last year. Exploring the legacy of the women’s movement it features the poignant presence of surviving member of the March’s organisers, Sophia Williams De Bruyn, leading the film’s reverential, inspiring and necessary message. Once the backbone of resistance, did women become invisible after South Africa’s transition and are the ‘Remember Khwezi’ and Fallist campaigns re-igniting the legacy of activists like Charlotte Maxeke?

Also receiving its world premiere will be Sisters of the Wilderness, Karin Slater’s inspiring film set in the iMfolozi, the oldest game park in Africa, where five young Zulu women from underprivileged backgrounds go for the first time in their lives on a journey of self-discovery, which offers them an opportunity to grow and heal, and serves as a reminder that we are intimately linked to nature and what we do to her we do to ourselves.

Not In My Neighbourhood is an explosive film that was born in Cape Town several years ago when filmmaker Kurt Orderson documented residents facing eviction in Woodstock and Salt River to make way for development and gentrification. The project grew and is a truly impressive piece of film activism, over three years Orderson followed the anti-gentrification and police brutality monitoring collective #copwatch in New York, the rise to power of real estate mogul Donald Trump, the Occupation movements in Sao Paulo and the legacy of Apartheid Spatial Planning to modern day Gentrification experienced by communities in Woodstock. Making connections through the inter-generational stories of people fighting for the right to their city Not in my Neighbourhood takes the viewer on a journey into the everyday lives of these characters and how, daily, they experience and battle spatial violence.

Violence of another kind is confronted in the vivid and propulsive This Is Congo, photojournalist Daniel Mc Cabe’s stunningly beautiful, brutally immersive and unfiltered look into the world’s longest continuing conflict and those who are surviving within it. Through four compelling characters – a whistle-blower, a patriotic military commander, a mineral dealer and a displaced tailor – this award-winning film, that premiered in Venice last year and is the hot ticket on the festival circuit, captures a moment of time and, simultaneously, an entire history with blistering and tragic effectiveness.

Another current hot ticket on the DocFest circuit, which premiered to raves at this year’s Sundance is The Price of Everything, Nathaniel Kahn’s brilliant and captivating look at how the art world was converted into a money market. The film has unprecedented access into the global demimonde of connoisseur/investors who, over the last three decades, have made the art market into a de facto stock market, complete with trading and flipping and commodities futures. The question that drives the market is, “Who’s the most undervalued artist?” The movie shows us how this plays out for two legendary artists who live on opposite ends of the continuum, Jeff Koons, the poster boy for art as a luxury brand, and abstract painter Harry Poons whose stock dropped considerably after a successful period in the ’60s.

On the other end of the spectrum, a testament to the expansiveness of documentary as a genre and fresh from its world premiere at April’s Tribeca Film Festival is Tanzania Transit. Jeroen van Velzen’s ruminative, captivating road movie follows three people finding their way, literally and figuratively, on a train journey across Tanzania. Each has already overcome considerable hardships, yet, in some sense, they appear unable to keep up with the fast-changing society around them. Van Velzen’s artful touches neatly encapsulate their experience, creating a narrow, train-window-sized view on class, nationality, ethnicity, age, and gender, and how those divisions combine or combust in the most compact of melting pots.

These are just a few of the highlights of what promises to be an invigorating celebration of Encounters’ 20 years of being at the forefront of non-fiction cinema. Other must-see films that will be featured this year include:

Life Is Wonderful: Mandela’s Unsung Heroes: Through ground-breaking and never–before-seen interviews, the former English High Court Judge Sir Nicholas Stadlen throws light onto the extraordinary people involved in the Rivonia Trial – the court case that changed South Africa. Their stories and the stories of the anti-apartheid struggle show the power of people’s ideals to enable them to create the world as it should be, not accepting the world as it is.
Acclaimed South African filmmakers look into food and wine with Pluck! A Film Not Just About Chicken: Lloyd Ross and Joelle Chesselet’s funky investigation into Nando’s marketing campaign and Akin Omotoso’s penetrating and insightful The Colour of Wine which shows the changing face of the South African wine industry.

Lots Of Kids, A Monkey And A Castle is a madcap masterpiece that overflows with affection, warmth and humour, about a highly dysfunctional but deeply loving clan. Spanish actor Gustav Salmeron steps behind the camera to capture the winsome eccentricities of his extraordinary mother Julita, who had three dreams: having lots of kids, owning a monkey, and living in a castle.

For more information about the complete 2018 programme, visit the Encounters website.  Encounters takes place from 31 May to 10 June 2018 in Cape Town at the Labia, the Nouveau V&A Waterfront and Bertha Movie House, Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha and in Johannesburg, at the Bioscope and the Nouveau Rosebank.

New guest director for Encounters 2018 announced

Encounters Documentary Festival recently announced that Reginald, “Reggie” Zamuxolo Khanzi has been appointed as Guest Festival director for the 20th-anniversary edition.

Khanzi is a former director of the Apollo Film Festival in Victoria West in the Northern Cape which has showcased South African films for a number of years. He is currently project director at the Apollo Development Association. Reggie has a long association with Encounters dating back to 2006 when he worked as an outreach coordinator for the festival.

The Encounters team have assisted the Apollo Festival in programming and planning in previous editions.

“I am extremely grateful to the Board of Encounters for providing me with the opportunity to work on such an illustrious film festival, one of the most longstanding successful documentary film festivals around,” said Khanzi.

‘’We are very pleased to welcome Reggie back to Encounters which will further cement our long relationship with Apollo and Encounters,’’ said board member, Mandisa Zitha.

Encounters will take place in Cape Town and Johannesburg from 31 May to 10 June 2018.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Pin It on Pinterest