Monday, June 22, 2009

Encounters Documentary Film Festival

Encounters International Documentary Festival has become a pivotal event in the South African film calendar. The 2009 programme of over 40 films combines the work of a host of top international and local filmmakers.

A record 14 South African films, made by the best and the brightest local filmmaking talent, make their World débuts, and another two have their South African Premières at Encounters.

For the past 11 years Encounters was the first platform to showcase major feature documentary films .Since its inception Encounters has screened over 1,241 films - 270 International titles and 130 South African titles - and has commissioned 44 films, with record attendance figures to date of 98,612.

This year there is an array of international work from Afghanistan, UK, USA, Canada, Cuba, Senegal, France, Egypt, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Cameroon and Belgium.

The award-winning films include Oscar nominated and Golden Globe Award Winner 2009 - Best Foreign Language film Waltz with Bashir the animated documentary about the dreams that plague Israeli Army Conscripts, and a film by legendary director Werner Herzog, which captures the beauty of Antarctica in Encounters at the End of the World, was also a recipient of a 2009 Oscar nomination. Three winners of Sundance 2009 are Afghan Star which looks at the return of pop culture in Afghanistan and the risks for those involved. The film won the Audience and Directing Awards. The Grand Jury World Cinema Documentary Award winner Rough Aunties is about a group of brave compassionate Durbanites who fight for the rights of abused children, and the winner of IDFA's Joris Ivens award and Sundance's Best World Cinema Documentary Editing as well as the 2009 Berlinale Human Rights Award is Burma VJ – Reporting from a Closed Country which shows the perils of reporting form a closed and repressed country.

Who Killed Maggie? charts the last two weeks of Margaret Thatcher’s Political life; The Queen and I is a portrait of the glamorous Queen of Persia in exile in Paris; and Tyson is a mesmerising study of the bad boy of boxing.
Films with an African focus are Sacred Places which looks at St Leon which is a community in the city of Ouagadougou that lives and breathes film; Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love is a cinematic journey about one man’s voice to inspire change; and Yande Codou, Griot of Senghor takes us into the world of one of Africa’s famed griots, an accomplished practitioner of polyphonic praise singing.

The short films include Bronx Princess - Rocky Otto a teenager from the Bronx is also a Ghanaian Princess; Slaves a powerful animated documentary about Abuk enslaved at 5 by the Sudanese government sponsored militia and looks at other children in difficult situations; Freddy Ilanga: Che’s Swahili Translator is a World Première and tells of a 15 year old who in 1965 was ordered to work as Che’s Swahili translator during a secret Congo mission to train anti-Mobuto rebels.

In The Age of Stupid Franny Armstrong sets her film in 2055 where a lone archivist compiles footage of the warning signs that we collectively chose to ignore and Four Wings and a Prayer is Nick de Pencier’s study of the Monarch butterfly.

The Champagne Spy concerns the complicated web of deceit and the high-life of a Mossad spy posing as a German in Egypt in the 60s directed by Nadav Schirman, and Israeli Yoav Shamir’s Defamation has the chutzpah to unpack anti-Semitism. Shamir is a guest of the Festival.

Fierce Light: when spirit meets action Velcrow Ripper’s highly personal film which questions his life as a social activist and asks can spirituality and action converge? Ripper is a guest of the Festival.

Music from the Inside Out is a portrait of the world famous Philadelphia Orchestra through the personal tales of some of the musicians and RIP –A Remix Manifesto examines copyright and promotes a ‘fair use’ in the reworking of art and music to create new works.

Over the past decade Encounters has been in the forefront of the renaissance of the South African documentary tradition, the Festival is immensely proud to host over 14 new SA works.

The Festival opens with Rewind - Director Liza Key‘s film about the making of Philip Miller’s TRC inspired Rewind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony.

Other World premieres include The Invincibles Mark Kaplan’s rugby film which centres on the 1974 SA tour by the British and Irish Lions who broke the boycott and trounced the Boks. . For Which I am Prepared to Die the story of Hermanus born Roger Bushell the mastermind behind many escapes from WWII POW camps, including the Great Escape celebrated in a film of the same name. The film is made by Bushell’s niece, Lindy Wilson . In Tribes and Clans is an examination by radical thinkers of the colonial power’s socio-political constructs of Tribes and Clans.The director is Ntokozo Mahlalela.

Soap Star Dawn Matthews and rap artist HHP (Hip Hop Pantsula) search of their ancestors in the series Who Do You Think You Are? They are directed respectively by Tim Greene and Ernie Vosloo.

Two giants from the art world Kentridge and Dumas in conversation is directed by Catherine Meyburg.
From the music world Fokofpolisiekar “forgive them for they know not what they do” Bryan Little’s film about the in your face punk rock band Bellville band and the short Jitsvinger: maak it aan! uncovers the world of poet guitarist and hip hopster Quinton Goliath.

The Pioneer of Paraguay a short film about -a South African stranded in South America.

The Last Voyage director Genadendal born, Riaan Hendricks makes a personal journey at the time of his father’s death.

Craig and Damon Foster look at climate change from an African perspective in Nature of Life. Two short films under the banner of Healing Power of Nature are Liz Fish’s Deep Friends set in a chimpanzee Sanctuary in Zambia and River Of Ashes Emma Bestall’s film about the River Ganges, abused holy mother.
Encounters has partnered with the prestigious Goodman Gallery in showcasing the best of films made by South African artists, this will include a special screening entitled Artslot and a screening of select shorts prior some of the feature films.

Two South African Premieres are Sea Point Days Emmy Award winning director Francois Verster’s impressionistic look at life on the promenade and in the pools

Zola Maseko explores the wealth of 900 years of African Intellectual output in a library in The Manuscripts of Timbuktu.

Other South African films are Lunchbox Bullies which explores why bullies bully, and Daughter of Spirits Mother of Mine shows that the call of the ancestors is not always a gift and the short film Soul Train looks at the church coaches on the commuter trains from Soweto to Jozi.

Guests of the Festival
South African Guests : Dawn Matthews, Bryan Little (Fokofpolisiekar), Filipa Domingues (Fokofpolisiekar), Lindy Wilson (For which I’m Prepared to Die), Liz Fish (HPON – Deep Friends) and Emma Bestall (HPON –River of Ashes), HHP, Mark Kaplan(The Invicibles), Riaan Hendricks (The Last Voyage), Nhlanhla Mthethwa (Lunchbox Bullies), Zola Maseko The Manuscripts of Timbuktu), Liza Key(Rewind), Philip Miller (Rewind) Francois Verster (Sea Point Days), Ntokozo Mahlaela(Tribes and Clans), Nadine Angel Cloete(Jitsvinger: maak it aan!) Quinton Goliath (Jitsvinger: maak it aan!) Lisa Swart (The Pioneer of Paraguay) and Thabo Bruno Makoena (Soul Train).
International Guests: Yoav Shamir (Defamation, Velcrow Ripper (Fierce Light: when spirit meets action), Angele Diabang Brener (Yandou Codou), Katrin Hansing (Freddy Ilanga: Che's Swahili Translator)
Master Classes: Velcrow Ripper - creating soundscape; and Yoav Shamir - how to gain access to subjects when dealing with sensitive issues.

The Sponsors of the Encounters Film festival are;

The National Film and Video Foundation, Cape Film Commission, Jan Vrijman Fund/IDFA, Pro Helvetia and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Vivien Cohen and the Human Elephant Foundation, the Africa Centre, French Embassy, British Council, High Commission of Canada, Business & Arts South Africa, Tempest Car Hire, Goodman Gallery, The Times, Exclusive Books, Nu Metro and Cape Town TV.

For further information look at our website or contact Joy Sapieka e-mail

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