Encounters Announces 2024 Award-Winners

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Encounters South African International Documentary Festival has announced the award-winners of its 2024 edition which took place in Cape Town and Johannesburg from 20 to 30 June.

Encounters Adiaha Award (in collaboration with the Ladima Foundation): Judges in this category were South African Producer Carolyn Carew, Cameroonian Filmmaker Cyrielle Raingou, and Zimbabwean film and New Media Content Producer Siza Mukwedini.

The Encounters Adiaha Award for Best Documentary by an African Woman went to Our Land, Our Freedom (Kenya/United States/Portugal/Germany – Directors Zippy Kimundu and Meena Nanji).  The award seeks to recognise and incentivise African women to tell their stories through documentary film. 

The filmmakers receive $2,000 towards their next production and an invitation to attend DOK.fest München, Germany.

The jury citation said: “This documentary is beautifully heartbreaking. The dazzling camera slowly invites us on a journey of discovering amazing people who fought for their freedom, their land, and are still paying the high price today. (It) digs deeper into the past in order to challenge the narrative and fight for a better future for the forgotten.”

This film is beautifully heartbreaking . The dazzling camera slowly invites us on a journey of discovering amazing people who fought for their freedom, their land, and are still paying the high price today.

The combination of archive materials, the very sensitive topic of colonialism and its aftermath on the people, dispossessed from their land, reveal the horrific hidden history of Kenya and how it can keep the victims in a perpetual state of imprisonment. 

Our land, Our freedom digs deeper into the past in order to challenge the narrative and fight for a better future for the forgotten. 

Special mentions in this category were made of Al Djanat, The Original Paradise (France/Burkina Faso/Benin/Germany – Director Chloé Aïcha Boro) and Mother City (South Africa – Directors Miki Redelinghuys and Pearlie Joubert).

Encounters Al Jazeera Awards for Best African Documentary: Judges in this category were sales agent Berry Hahn, Programs, Partnerships and Fundraising Manager, Susan Mbogo and film and culture critic Wilfred Okiche. 

Encounters Al Jazeera Award for Best African Documentary went to Al Djanat, The Original Paradise (France/Burkina Faso/Benin/Germany – Director Chloé Aïcha Boro).The film-maker receives a cash prize of R15,000.

The judge’s citation read: “Tradition and modern colonial laws clash in this sharply affecting documentary. Sincere and non-judgemental, Al Djanat, the Original Paradise is a finely observed and personal take on an age-old conflict, between the old ways and the new.”

Runner up was The Mother of All Lies (Morocco/Egypt – Director Asmae El Moudir) which receives a cash prize of R7,500, and special mentions were made of Mother City (South Africa – Directors Miki Redelinghuys and Pearlie Joubert) and Diary of an Elephant Orphan  (South Africa – Director Hermien Roelvert-Van Gils).

Encounters Al Jazeera Awards for Best International Documentary: Judges in this category were producer Nothando ‘Thando’ Shozi-Malanga, writer and art director Peter Machen, and screenwriter and producer Sean Drummond.

Encounters Al Jazeera Award for Best International Documentary was awarded to No Other Land (Palestine/Norway – Directors Basel Adra, Yuval Abraham, Hamdan Ballal and Rachel Szor) which comes with a cash award of R15,000.

No Other Land is vulnerable, intimate and alternatingly furious and tragic, yet leans hard into a story of hope for the future through its central relationship between men on two sides of a conflict, coming together in what feels almost like a love story at times,” said the jury citation.

Runner up was Hollywoodgate (Germany/USADirector Ibrahim Nash’at) with a cash prize of R7,500, and special mention was made of Soundtrack to a Coup d’État (Belgium/France/The Netherlands – Director Johan Grimonprez).

SAGE – Encounters Refinery Best Edited Film Award: Judges in this category were film editors Andrea Shaw, Jackie Le Cordeur and freelance multimedia creative and post production professional Whitemore Ngwira.

The SAGE – Encounters Refinery Best Edited Film Award went to The Friendship Bench (Editors: David Jakubovic, Salia Hovanec and Lebogang Montso). This award winner will receive R50,000 in post-production facilities with The Refinery, and will be shared by the winning production company/filmmaker and editor at their discretion. 

The judges were “moved and inspired by this life-affirming story of how a simple grassroots idea, harnessing the power of Gogos (grandmothers), can have a profound impact on the mental health of communities. The documentary was clearly and authentically African. It’s rare to come across such a hopeful story.” 

Special mentions in this category went to Diary of an Elephant Orphan (Editors: Hermien Roelvert-Van Gils and Melissa Parry) and Mother City (Editor: Khalid Shamis).

Rough Cut Lab Africa (RCLA) is a pan-African intervention supporting independent documentary films in the rough cut stage, with a specific focus on nurturing story editors on the continent.  RCLA 2024 Award winners are: 

Two Refinery Awards go to Notes from the Underground (South Africa – Adrian van Wyk and Chris Kets).

The RCLA Al Jazeera Documentary Award of R15,000 goes to Magma (Algeria/France – Mia Bendrimia and Nassim Quadi).  

Mamelodi ‘86 – Moya O Boima (South Africa – Dimakatso Raphoto and Thabo Bopape) awarded an audio package by Pressure Cooker Studios and Rough Cut Lab Africa to the value of R142,401.88.   

The Anima Creative Studio Award for poster design package to NóS, Povos Das Ilhas (Cape Verde/Mozambique/Portugal – Elson Santos, Lara Sousa and Sara Gouveia).

Awarded by Fig Leaf Studios sound services for €5,000 per film goes to You don’t die Two Times (Algeria – Ager Oueslati and Salma Ben Osman) and Family Business (Egypt – Marwan Mowaffak and Gina Safwat).

“This year’s festival has truly showcased the power and diversity of documentary storytelling,” says Mandisa Zitha, Director of Encounters. “The awarded documentaries highlight significant narratives and voices that deserve global recognition. These awards not only celebrate the filmmakers’ achievements but also encourage filmmakers to tell their stories. The impact of these films inspire change and foster a deeper understanding of our shared histories and futures.”

Encounters is Supported and Funded by:

The City of Cape Town, Bertha Foundation, National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa, Al Jazeera Documentary, IFAS – Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud, Refinery, Goethe-Institut of South Africa, Mail & Guardian, Heineken Beverages, Rough Cut Lab Africa, DOK.fest Munich, Ladima Foundation, anima, Pressure Cooker Studio, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Known Associates, German Films, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, SS NL, Cinema Solidarity, Documentary Filmmakers Association, Kamva Collective, The Video Store Podcast, the University of Cape Town and the Centre for Film and Media Studies, Mail and Guardian (Media Partner), UWC The Centre for Humanities Research, Climate Story Lab Southern Africa, Durban FilmMart Institute, Webber Wentzel.