The 13th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival returns to Cape Town and Johannesburg from 9-26 June 2011. This year’s selection has all the hallmarks of an edgy teenager, like a fascination with sex (G-Spotting), celebrity (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, a winner at Sundance in 2010 last year), rebellion (LennonNYC), and injustice (Black Power Mixtape, a winner at Sundance in 2011).








Opening up the world to South Africans each year, Encounters is widely acclaimed as Africa’s most prestigious documentary festival. This year’s selection features 37 films from 14 countries and five continents, including 11 world premieres, 19 South African films and 17 international films.



Eye-opening films investigate everything from Robert Mugabe’s reign in Zimbabwe (Robert Mugabe: What Happened?) to Middle Eastern falcon traders with links to Osama Bin Laden (Feathered Cocaine) to New Zealand’s preparations for this year’s Rugby World Cup (Cup of Dreams) to the difference between eco-warriors and eco-terrorists in America (If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, which came second at Miami Film Festival).



Africa’s not left out: When China Met Africa is an award-winning account of the impact and experiences of Africa’s biggest investor.

We’ve had an extraordinary number of entries this year… Our final selection will keep audiences entertained but also make them relook at the world through new eyes. (Festival Director Mandisa Zitha)

With just over half the programme coming from within our borders, Encounters also reveals the very different worlds South Africans experience within the same country.

Simon Wood’s Forerunners, winner of the Jury Award at The Pan African Film Festival in Cannes, explores South Africa’s emerging black middle class, while Tim Wege’s King Naki tells the story of the Seabiscuit of the Eastern Cape.



Brian Tilley’s History Uncut is a rare interview with Chris Hani, who’s been called the president we should have had, while Eddie Edwards’ Once Upon a Day profiles Brenda Fassie, the controversial queen of African pop.

Two well-known local writers make eagerly anticipated directorial debuts at the Festival.

Lauren Beukes, whose Zoo City recently won The Arthur C. Clarke Award for the year’s best science fiction novel, will première Glitterboys and Ganglands, the funny and moving story of three hopefuls of the Miss Gay Western Cape competition.



Eric Miyeni, who wrote The Only Black at the Dinner Party and was famously fired by SAFM for being too controversial, will screen Mining for Change: A Story of South African Mining, which is sure to generate heated debate. Eric directed the film with Navan Chetty.

Another 10 South African films will have their world premières at Encounters: Jacques de Villiers and Laura Gamse’s The Creators; Khalid Shamis’ The Imam and I; Angela Ramirez, Sara Gouveia and Calum MacNaughton’s Mama Goema: The Cape Town Beat in Five Movements; and Matthew Kalil’s Porselynnkas Dokimenter, as well as the shorts An Intersection (Karin Slater); From B-Boys to Being Men (Tanswell Jansen); Scars (Tiny Laubscher, Chris Schutte); Wellbodi Biznes (Miki Redelinghuys, Kyle O’Donoghue); Li-Xia’s Salon (Omelga Mthiyane); and Where We Planted Trees (Shelley Barry).


There were more South African entries than ever this year… Our filmmakers are expanding their funding resources beyond the broadcasters, which has meant we’ve received better films which are more varied. It’s been a relief to get fewer TV format-style documentaries and more auteur-driven independent ones. (Mandisa Zitha)

Encounters runs from 9-26 June 2011 at Nu Metro V&A Waterfront and at Nu Metro Hyde Park and The Bioscope in Johannesburg. Click HERE to see what the festival director, Mandisa Zithe, says about this year’s Encounters in episode 06 of our online news show Boom+27.