Advocate is an absorbing account of the life of Jewish-Israeli advocate Lea Tsemel, who has worked tirelessly for nearly 50 years defending Palestinians against charges laid by the Israeli state. Directed with compassion and restraint, this richly multi-layered exploration of Tsemel’s life is equal parts courtroom drama and character study.
This film about the life of Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza portrays its charismatic and passionate subject as a man of strength and integrity without descending into excessive praise or hagiography. An engaging film which makes effective use of cinematic portraiture to provide a broader history of the country.
This fascinating look at the graffiti artist who has achieved global fame without ever revealing his name, provides an account of Banksy’s anarchic career, from the early appearances of his work in Bristol to the ways in which the enigmatic artist has invisibly scaled the heights of the art world while at the same time ridiculing its values.
This remarkable film looks at a small group of self-appointed investigators who use publicly available resources on the internet to determine the truth about key recent news events such as the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine. Bellingcat is an inspiring tribute to the power of citizen journalism – and its impact on mainstream reportage.
This documentary about the controversial 1974 boycott-breaking British Lions Tour to South Africa where they played against the Springbok rugby team, focuses on one particular rugby player, Dugald Macdonald, and Jenefer Shute, a young woman who ran onto the field protesting the match, a moment that would change both their lives forever.
This beautifully crafted and highly intelligent film explores the personal experience of a third-generation Holocaust survivor in Berlin. Remarkably honest and frank, the film asks fascinating questions, and is a great example of how the more specific an inquiry is, the more it can seem to generate a universal resonance.
This powerful account of the war in Syria and the systematic destruction of Aleppo is told from the first-person perspective of journalist Waad al-Kateab, providing a rare cinematic account of the female experience of war. Taking the form of a love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film’s profound humanity gives it universal resonance.
From Underground to the Corridors of Power, from director Teddy Mattera, provides a critical look at the formation of the National Union of Miners (NUM). Featuring interviews with key figures in the movement, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the film centres on the miners’ struggle for a living wage and better working conditions.
This beautifully rendered chronicle of day-to-day life in Gaza focuses on the lived reality in the besieged and violence-punctuated area. Directed with great compassion and exquisitely shot, the film never wavers from depicting the violence that punctuates the lives of those who live there even as it documents the richness of the culture that exists amidst the violence.
Help or Hindrance? The Sullivan Principles in Apartheid South Africa tells the story of why African-American preacher and civil rights activist Reverend Leon Sullivan initiated the Principles a few years after joining the Board of General Motors, how this voluntary code mandating American subsidiaries to create equality in the work place and contribute towards ending apartheid was implemented and how their efforts were received in South Africa and viewed in the US, including the wide-ranging criticism they invoked both sides of the Atlantic
This look at the old railway town of Hutchinson and its subsequent almost-complete deterioration and abandonment, as the country’s train system both modernized and diminished, provides a fascinating snapshot of small-town life during the apartheid era and transition to democracy. The result is an extraordinary narrative about the lives of ordinary people in a hollowed-out town.
This entertaining character-driven documentary follows hip-hop pioneer Enzo Tema on his quest for the resolution of his internal conflict with the fact that he used to be a musician who looked down on this unique genre of music but has since become a massive fan. Enzo takes a retrospective look at the genre and his new-found love thereof
Influence charts the recent advancements in weaponised communication by investigating the rise and fall of the world’s most notorious public relations and reputation-management firm, the British multinational Bell Pottinger. Influence illustrates how both the structures of our society and the very texture of our lives can be defined, designed and manipulated by powerful and secretive forces.
The subject of the film – an ageing baron named Ronald Busch Reisinger who claims to be Irish but is the very image of American excess – is vacuous and insecure. But that is very much the point in this beautifully rendered document of cruise-line luxury culture in which the facade of decadence is lifted to reveal its essential emptiness.
The Kingmaker provides an extraordinary look at the political career of Imelda Marcos, the former Philippines first lady who, together with her husband, reigned over the country with an iron fist while pillaging its wealth, and who continues to exercise remarkable influence in the current Duterte administration and its rule of terror.
This is a languid and beautifully made account of the lives of three families who live in the polluted Russian city of Magnitogorsk, home to the state-run Kombinat, one of the largest iron and steel factories in the country. Kombinat falls midway between the stories of Chekhov and Kafka, rendered in the medium of social-realist cinema.
Blurring the edges of the documentary genre, Lamentations of Judas is a contemporary retelling of the gospel of Luke, with the cast consisting of members of a community of black Angolan soldiers who once fought white South Africa’s colonial wars and now live displaced lives in the ruins of a former asbestos-mining town on the edge of the Kalahari.
When Karisa’s grandmother is accused of witchcraft, he travels from Mombasa to her rural home to find out who’s behind the threatening accusations. It turns out that the letter came from a member of his own family. As events progress, the film shows how this rural community’s values have been disrupted by the twin forces of colonialism and religion.
This lovingly made film explores the South African jazz scene of the 1950s and 1960s. Featuring interviews with some of the leading figures in the jazz scene, the film offers insights into a world that has now faded from view but whose cultural legacy lives on in some of the most vibrantly beautiful music ever to be recorded.
Madame is an emotionally powerful account of the relationship between Caroline, a flamboyant 90-year-old grandmother, and her gay filmmaker grandson Stéphane as they engage in an intimate conversation that takes place across time and space. Based on personal archive footage, this is a moving and highly engaging family saga that challenges the taboos of gender and sexuality.
A filmed account of the stage version of Sindiwe Magona’s novel about the tragic killing of Amy Biehl during the pre-election violence of 1993, Mother to Mother explores the difficult channels of forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation from the perspective of the mothers of the killer and the victim.
This documentary portrays four generations of a family of drag queens in Brussels. As masculine features gradually soften under layers of makeup, as glasses are emptied, so the stories begin to flow. Tough subjects are approached, such as suicide, coming out and maternal love. Jokes fly, and the topic turns to the generational divide.
In this entertaining and humorous film, Ifeoma Fafunwa, AKA Mrs F, is a middle-class Nigerian woman who facilitates feminist workshops with women in a floating shanty town on the edge of Lagos, as they work towards a theatre production for the highly patriarchal local community about the abuse of women.
25 years after the transition to democracy, South Africa is the most economically unequal country in the world. This heartbreakingly insightful film consists of remarkably frank interviews with a full spectrum of South Africans, moving from the early days of liberation to a contemporary society in which the culture of resistance and protest is as strong as ever.
In 1996, DanceSport was one of the most popular leisure activities in South Africa, with the ‘Rumba in the Jungle’ event bringing dance couples from around the world to compete in the prestigious event. But, in 1999, the dance festival was cancelled. The film follows the journey of two dancers as ‘Rumba in the Jungle’ makes its resurgence nearly two decades later.
Sakawa takes a look at internet scamming in Ghana, where con artists cheat wealthy Westerners as a means of escaping poverty. As the film shows, it’s a relatively simple matter to open up discarded hard drives and gain access to photos and the personal details of their former owners. Equipped with a name and address, almost anybody can be found online…
SanDance! follows several indigenous San dance groups as they travel from remote Kalahari villages to the Kuru Dance Festival in Botswana, where their unique and spectacular dance performances are showcased. The result is a moving journey that explores the age-old trance-healing dance at the heart of San culture.
Political activist Boniface ‘Softie’ Mwangi has long fought injustices in his country. Now he’s taking the next step by running for office in a regional Kenyan election. But running a clean campaign against corrupt opponents, with idealism as his only weapon, proves challenging – and Boniface soon discovers that confronting strong political dynasties poses a risk to his family’s safety.
Tin Soldiers tells the story of people afflicted with an extremely rare medical condition that slowly turns their connective tissue to bone. The resulting documentary is a compelling tale of courage in which these real-life ‘tin soldiers’ overcome their human frailty to show the spirit of resilience and survival, even within the most physically ravaged bodies.
Spanning the full length of Morrison’s life and prolific career, Pieces I Am examines her works and the powerful themes she has explored through her writing. With Morrison’s charisma and brilliance at its centre, the film explores her career as a novelist and editor as well as the history that has informed her writing.
Agnès Varda, who died in 2019, was a photographer, installation artist and pioneer of the widely influential French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This self-made film, produced just before her death, is filled with magic – and is a rare chance to see a major artist’s work from their own perspective.
Waking Stellenbosch, from Berlin-based filmmaker Sarah Marecek, who attended Stellenbosch University as a student, explores the traditionally Afrikaans campus in relation to the nationwide student protests which have rocked South Africa in recent years. The film explores the activism of the “born free” generation when confronted with an institution entrenched in a history of colonialism and Apartheid.