From Oscar nominated “I Am Not Your Negro” to Sundance winner “Winnie,” and Nick Broomfield’s honest and 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 that will be screened at the prestigious and much anticipated Encounters South African International Documentary Festival next month.
With a line-up that consists of over 60 acclaimed films, the festival takes place from June 1-11 at the Labia , the Nouveau V&A Waterfront and Bertha Movie House, Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, and the Bioscope and the Nouveau Rosebank in Johannesburg.
*Raoul Peck’s Oscar nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro,” as spoken by visionary writer and social critic James Baldwin on 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?”, on the life of Whitney Houston, one of the most successful recording artist of all time.
*Oscar nominated “Life Animated,” a real life story of an autistic boy who couldn’t speak for years whose 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,” 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,” the ebullient portrait 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 “Dragan’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,” about the struggle of the Hereo 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 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 will also focus on South African issues:
* Miki Redelinghuy’s “This Land” examines the lives of villages once forcibly removed under apartheid 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 thestatus 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) and “Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back,” 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 promises not to disappoint.
The Festival also offers an eclectic lineup of International features.
* 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, to talented Dutch director Samira Elagoz’s intimate encounters with strangers in “Craiglist Allstars,” and 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,” 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 exposé 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.
* Favorites 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.
* In partnership with Swiss Films, Encounters presents Heidi Specongo’s “Cahier Africain” featuring disturbing Central African testimonies of trauma at the hands of mercenaries, and Laurence Bonvin’s three compelling shorts “After Vegas,” “Blikkiesdorp” and “Before the Flight.”
There is also 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.
The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival runs June 1-11.