Welcome to the 22nd Encounters South African international Documentary Festival and our first all-online edition!

The price of our 2020 festival tickets is ZERO

In this unprecedented Covid landscape, our Festival will take place online, free of charge!

Please consider donating the price of a film ticket if you are able – R50 to help keep the Festival alive!

The Encounters Training and Development Institute is a not-for-profit section 21 organization. Become a DocLover or Corporate sponsor of Encounters to continue being a part of this cultural revolution. For more info on what we do, go to our “Support the Festival” Page.

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Best of Fest Sold Out Shows

We are delighted to announce our sold out “Best of Fest” screenings. SanDance! - 250 more tickets available How to Steal a Country - 250 more tickets available Influence – as you know, we are hosting a fundraising screening on 30th! Book now to avoid disappointment....

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Additional fundraising screening of INFLUENCE

Due to popular demand and after 2 sold out screenings of INFLUENCE, Encounters is delighted to announce that an additional fundraising screening will take place on Sunday 30 August.

So … for just R100 (or more if you wish) follow the instructions below to book your ticket!

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Festival Director, Mandisa Zitha

Though we were faced with a new way of doing things, what has not changed is our thoughtful selection of the best new documentaries – a line-up of 78 local and international titles screening over 10 days on our online cinema platform.

As we adapt to the new reality, we invite you to join us in celebrating remarkable talent and the much-needed coming together of our community.

Every film in our programme echoes our core belief, that documentary has the power to transform, inform, challenge, support, engage both emotionally and intellectually and, ultimately, contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue.

We are delighted to welcome local filmmakers, those from neighbouring countries, and from around the world and we thank you for contributing to our Festival.

We look forward to both our live and pre-recorded Q&A sessions, and to hearing the creative voices behind the work that we will be presenting.

The mammoth task of organising a new kind of Festival in these already challenging times was made possible by the support of our loyal funders, partners and friends… and for that support we express our heartfelt gratitude. Significantly, we applaud the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa for rising to the occasion and helping festivals to adapt and survive.

Encounters Talks features top industry experts from around the world. Their participation in our Webinars and In Conversation series has been made possible by our partners.

The annual Swiss Focus presents In Conversation with Stéphane Riethauser, the award-winning director of Madame. We are delighted to include in our line-up two other Swiss films: Il Mio Corpo by Michele Pennetta and Kombinat by Gabriel Tejedor.

Our panel discussion View of documentary in a Covid and post-Covid society with Mathieu Béjot, Director of Strategy & Development at the premier Festival, Sunny Side of the Doc, is made possible with the support of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS).

In Conversation with Sharon Ryba-Kahn and the screening of Displaced is made possible by our long-standing partner DOK.fest Munich.

The Virtual Encounters programmes is a collaboration with Electric South.

Distribution Now with the For Sama Impact producing team is an initiative of the University of Cape Town Centre for Film and Media Studies.

WESGRO has partnered with FNB to bring us the annual Emerging Filmmakers Business Capacity programme.

University of the Western Cape’s Centre for Humanities Research is organising Human Rights and The Representation of Africa with The Letter.

The Documentary Filmmakers Association is hosting a special session with key industry stakeholders to discuss funding opportunities in uncertain times. Gauteng Film Commission, Kwazulu-Natal Film Commission and SASFED will be participating in this critical discussion.

We welcome other international speakers on our programme:

Charlotte Cook, Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Field of Vision, and Brian Newman, Founder of Sub-Genre.

Among our local talent, we welcome the participation in the industry keynote event of Thandi Davids, Executive Producer and Head of Development at StoryScope, and director / producer at Nayanaya Pictures, Xoliswa Sithole, who is leading the discussion on the experiences of women documentary filmmakers.

An exciting development this year is the Adiaha Award for Best Documentary Film by an African Woman, presented by The Ladima Foundation. A winner will be selected from the six eligible films for this year by an all-woman jury of film practitioners from across Africa including Theresa Hill (Manager, STEPS, South Africa), Dina Naser (Filmmaker, Palestine, Jordan); Patience Asaba Katushabe (Filmmaker, Kampala, Uganda)

Encounters opens with the much-awaited film Influence, directed by Richard Poplak & Diana Neille , and continues to pack the punch with the year’s most talked-about political documentaries. The international section features award-winning festival-favourites dealing with the war in Syria For Sama, a mysterious artist Banksy Most Wanted, a celebrated author Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am and an eccentric baron King of the Cruise.

The most exciting South African documentaries cover a spectrum – from corruption How to Steal a Country, the profile of a political activist Art of Being Human, a tribute to a Jazz artist Listen to My Song, two different views of South Africa with Good Hope and A New Country, and a special selection of short films from veterans and new voices.

This year’s edition shines the spotlight on the best from the rest of the continent; from the Chinese presence in Lesotho Days of Cannibalism, corruption in Kenya Softie, a communist rebel in 60s Ethiopia Finding Sally, a young man’s journey to rural Kenya The Letter and internet scams in Ghana Sakawa.

We know you will enjoy this programme.

The digital acceleration has also shown a huge divide, and that is why we are grateful the Encounters, UCT Stepping Stones Programme, and the Eastern Cape Film Festival will be offering data to some filmmakers to participate in the Festival.

All screenings are free of charge but are limited to 400 tickets per film, so get ready to register and book! Though registration is free we do appreciate donations. Hit that donate button and guarantee the survival of Encounters!

On behalf of the Board, we extend our sincerest gratitude to our loyal funders, partners and supporters for their assistance in the realisation of this 22nd Festival and first online edition.

Although we will dearly miss our conversations at the cinemas, we will connect with you through our online platforms.

The 22nd Encounters South African International Documentary Festival is funded by:

The National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa, Gauteng Film Commission, WESGRO, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs & Sports, Department of Sports, Arts & Culture, Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, Consulate General of Switzerland in Cape Town and Sundance Covid 19 Relief Grant

Film Sponsors & Partners are:  

Swiss Films,  IFAS – The French Institute of South Africa, DOK.fest Munich

Media Partner is:  

Kaya FM

Festival partners are: 

Refinery, Documentary Filmmakers Association, South African Guild of Editors, Electric South and UCT Centre for Film & Media Studies

Open Virtually Everywhere

We are breaking boundaries and responding in real-time to the world’s new reality by making the Festival available to everyone, everywhere in South Africa .

In celebrating our 22nd year, we’re screening films free-of-charge to view on virtual platforms from 20–30 August.