Encounters celebrates both young and established filmmakers with an exciting line-up of short films from South Africa and around the world
The short film line-up at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival has been announced, with exciting South African, African and international contributions and a special selection of films from students on the African continent.
The short films span a range of topics including the environment, health, women, sport, race, art and politics, featuring protagonists such as an aspiring jockey from the Eastern Cape, a drag queen from Belgium and a group of young photographers who have become passionate about conserving wildlife.
The festival programme will make almost all films free-of-charge to view on virtual platforms from 20 – 30 August 2020.
Highlights include Also for Grownups, directed by Tim Wege and Peter O’Donnghue, which takes a look at South Africa’s exploding animation scene in 2019 – the year Netflix commissioned their first animated original from Africa, Triggerfish’s Mama K’s Team 4. The film foregrounds those who have crafted careers out of drawings and animation in an industry that is still unlocking its potential. The award-winning Mother’s, directed by Hippolyte Leibovici, has picked up prizes from Festival International Documentaire 2020, the Brussels Art Film Festival 2019 and the International Queer Film Festival Mexico 2019, amongst others. It takes a sultry, evocative look at a young, gay drag queen who has not yet come out about his profession to his mother, which he and his fellow performers refer to as “dragging out”.
Conservation issues are highlighted in Beyond the Fence, directed by Tessa Barlin, about the uplifting Wild Shots photographic project near the Kruger National Park, which engages disadvantaged youth living nearby in wildlife education and conservation. From the Frontline, directed by Emile Fick, focuses on the owner of a conservation farm in the Northern Cape region of South Africa who has developed a new form of rhino reserve with an ‘aggressive conservation’ approach. In She Breathes Water, renowned artist Penny Siopis uses an evocative collage of found footage to comment on humans’ destruction of the environment and how difficult it is for ecosystems to recover.
Young boys and men battling harsh circumstances are foregrounded in Difficult / Dafa Metti, directed by Tal Amiran, a heart-wrenching portrayal of the hardships faced by Senegalese men who seek a better future in Paris, only to be subject to police brutality, ridicule and in some cases deportation to countries which are not their own. Sherwin: Like a Lion, directed by Jessie Ayles, focuses on an adolescent overcome by peer pressure, drugs and gangsterism growing up in Cape Town’s Lavender Hill.
Three films turn the lense on race, but from very different perspectives. Ashleigh da Silva’s Blend follows a South African couple – he is black, she is white – who choose to have a blended wedding as part of a promise they’ve made to honour who they are and their differences. In Brown Skinned Girl, directed by Mona-Lisa Msime, a young South African girl struggles to see beauty in her reflection until she holds her own ‘Brown Skinned Girl AA meetings’ and reintroduces herself to herself. And Busisiwe Matonsi’s The World of Online Dating explores online dating in the black community of Cape Town, South Africa.
Succeeding at a specialised sport is the goal of Lubabalo from the Eastern Cape, whose ambition is to become the top jockey to honour his family’s heritage on the traditional horseracing circuit, and one day be a professional jockey. The Race, directed by Christopher Clark, takes a fascinating look at the century-old tradition of horseracing amongst Xhosa men. The Love of Two Wheels, directed by Mazikomsi S. Funani, is about a rising club cyclist from Khayelitsha who is forced to quit cycling when he leaves the area for university, losing his bike in the process.
A number of films focus on women and women’s issues. A House, directed by Fanny Rosell, tells the story of Sweden’s largest and oldest co-living space created for and occupied exclusively by women. It is a safe and unifying space. Tavo Ruiz’s Portraits of My Mother is a chilling account by a Mexican mother who was raped as a five-year-old child due to neglect on the part of her mother. The film is a universal story of women who are victims of sexual abuse and an alarming reminder of the dangers facing unattended children. In Women’s Mobile Museum: Portraits of Visual Activism, directors Cindy Burstein and Anula Shetty create a powerful compendium of stories lived and told by women belonging to the inspirational Women’s Mobile Museum (WMM), a concept developed by iconic South African artist, Zanele Muholi. Weeks of Sand, Months of Ash, Years of Dust, directed by Rita Macedo, is a meditation on a past belonging to a young woman who spent her childhood growing up in Portugal and later relocated to Macao, China. While she contends with a politically fraught past, she is suffering the impending loss of her mother who has dementia. ( ( ( ( ( /*\ ) ) ) ) ) we pronounce it as ‘echoes of the volcano’ directed by Charles Fairbanks and Saul Kak, is a slow-building, quiet and sensory film giving insight into the lives of the Zoque community, who were displaced when the Chichonal volcano in Mexico erupted in 1982. Thirty seven years later we meet a group of Zoque women who have formed a network building hope and working towards re-claiming their ancestral lands.
Other highlights include The Bisho Massacre: Who Pulled the Trigger by Petunia Mokoena, which gives a chilling account of the 1992 Bisho massacre in South Africa; Womb Dance (Dir: Ratsheko Mashilo Nthite, SA), a celebration of dance with performers of varying abilities; The Angel of History (Dir. Eric Esser, Germany), a pensive reflection on Walter Benjamin, the famous German-Jewish philosopher; and Set Apart (Dir. Dakoa Jegels, SA), about a powerlifter who hopes to one day study graphic design.