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Encounters 12th South African International Documentary Festival

Article By Monique Brogan

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to have a sneak preview of this year’s selection of over 50 films chosen for the Encounters Documentary Festival so I thought I might make it easier for those who are overwhelmed by the great selection on the programme and tell you about some of my favourites:

Cliff Bestall’s The 16th Man tells the moving and riveting story of how Nelson Mandela inspired a divided nation to come together in support of the Springboks and thus take one step closer towards reconciliation.

Afrikaaps adopts a much more irreverent tone to discuss an equally relevant issue about the history of South Africa, and especially the often ignored story of the significant contribution by indigenous cultures and the slave population to the development of the Afrikaans language, opening up a fascinating chapter that could never have been learned in school.

In the Green Movies section, the films have a wider focus than simply environmental concerns. Some of my favourite films of the festival are from this group: Buried in Earthskin presents an issue that will blow you away: there is a real danger of nuclear contamination for all of us living in Cape Town, which could affect and engulf the city at any time, and is in fact affecting citizens based close to the Koeberg plant right now.

A Place Without People examines Tanzania’s game parks from the rare point of view of the large groups of people who have been displaced to make way for them for the greater interest of the preservation of wildlife, and challenges this perceived wisdom by suggesting that the game and the ecosystem may not be better off without the people who have lived in harmony with them for millennia.

After watching Tapped, you will never buy another bottle of water again! The film uncovers the scandalous risks taken for profit by the bottled water companies: to the environment, to our health and to our pockets, and shows how the industry is keeping the consumer in the dark.

Andy Bichlbaum & Mike Bonanno’s Yes Men Fix the World relates the two filmmakers’ unorthodox attempts to take on the big guns of the corporate world through hilarious pranks which affect the share price, and often leave them looking foolish, in an attempt to expose the real impact of big business.

For art lovers, Bacon’s Arena and Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould both examine eccentric characters who, while leading turbulent personal lives and being somewhat misunderstood, were able to produce beautiful work that inspired.

Whether you’re a fan of B-Boy dance or not, Turn It Loose is a must-see, making use of excellent editing and visually exciting cinematography to inspire awe in the audience for

these masters of their artform. A short distance but a world away from the wealthy suburbs of Cape Town, is the Cape Flats, home of some of the most dangerous gangs, and of ex-gangster Mario, fighting a one-man
war to save youngsters from these gangs’ grips using the unlikely weapon of football: this is the story of Mario and the Rude Boys.


I could go on but space limits me. However, two more films spring to mind, must-sees at this year’s festival and obvious choices: Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) and Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space.

However, there are so many more worth seeing at this year’s festival so see you there!


Art Crossroads is a Festival Programer at Out In Africa, with a passion for writing and experiencing new things...
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