2 – 11 June. Tickets R55
The Bioscope is proud to welcome back The Encounters Documentary Film Festival for another year of world class documentaries from South Africa and around the world.
Fri 2 June. 7pm. Almost There. BUY TICKETS Dir: Jacqueline Zünd. 2016 Switzerland 80min. Almost There is an existential crisis, made gorgeously cinematic. All right-angle compositions, half-light and fluorescence, Zünd’s camera follows three men as they negotiate the last years of their lives. In the United States, a city slicker wanders solo around the frigid countryside, leaving voice messages for someone who never answers. In Tokyo, a retired salaryman gets used to his now-empty days in the world’s largest city. And in bleak Blackpool, a down-on- her-luck drag queen and comedian decides to leave grey Britain for a solitary life in a sunny Spanish resort. The sum of these three narratives is a poetic triptych that confronts mortality, aging, purpose and loneliness; a piece of cinema assured in its gloominess and texture, deep and affecting as a lush glass of red wine.
Fri 2 June. 8:45pm. Uprize! BUY TICKETS Dir: Sifiso Khanyile 2016 SA 58min. The Soweto uprising of 1976 is well documented: students peacefully protested the mandatory inclusion of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. By nightfall over 200 lay dead. The less well-documented ‘76 protest action by activists in Bonteheuwel, Langa and the Cape Flats, and student deaths, are the heart of this film. Personal reflections of struggle stalwarts Fatima Dike, Dr Mongane Wally Serote and Duma Ndlovu consider the states’ brutal response, the influence of the Black Consciousness Movement and their disappointment with the current state of the nation. It’s a glimpse into 70s SA, the cost of the fight for education and freedom, and especially relevant 40 years later as university students take on the ANC government demanding free, quality education. Director in attendance.
Sat 3 June 5:30pm. Jazz: The Only Way of Life BUY TICKETS Dir: Jacques Matthey. 2017 Switzerland 73min. Matthey, a former collaborator of the Montreux Jazz Festival and co-founder of the Auvernier Jazz Festival, traces the story behind the unlikely friendship between a genius trumpeter and a jazz-crazed Swiss engineer. Through interviews and with access to an extraordinary film archive – mostly unseen to date – and musical excerpts, a fascinating portrait of the unassuming Jacques Muyal emerges. This multi-linguist who, though he had his own jazz radio show at age 14 but never played an instrument,was an ardent supporter and life-long friend to many a jazz icon, most notably Dizzy Gillepsie. As Matthey says: ‘Muyal is not only an important witness in the history of jazz, he has also contributed in various roles to writing this story.’ As does Matthey in creating this film.
Sat 3 June 8pm. Life, Animated. BUY TICKETS Dir: Roger Ross Williams 2016 USA 92min. Imagine being trapped inside a Disney movie and having to learn about life mostly from animated characters dancing across a screen of colour. A fantasy? A nightmare? This Oscar nominated film is the real-life story of Owen Suskind, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia. A silent autistic boy, Owen memorized Disney movies to express love, loss, kinship and brotherhood. The family was forced to become animated characters, communicating in Disney dialogue and song; until they all emerge, together, revealing how, in darkness, we all literally need stories to survive. Co-Producer Carolyn Hepburn travels courtesy of the American Film Showcase (AFS) and will attend screenings in Jhb and CT
Sat 4 June 3pm. Rio Corgo BUY TICKETS Dirs: Sérgio Da Costa &; Maya Kosa 2015 Switzerland/Portugal 95min. This delicately constructed feature début, from directing duo Sérgio Da Costa and Maya Kosa, chronicles the final days of the life of Joaquim Silva, a romantic and somewhat dandified drifter who has been everything from a shepherd to a barber to an umbrella repairman. At the beginning of the film, Silva arrives in an isolated Portuguese village where he meets the young Ana who, drawn to the strange old man, gradually enters both his physical and interior world. Exquisitely shot with a painterly devotion and infused with a sense of the supernatural, Rio Corgo sits at the intersection of document, fiction and fine art, its meditative quality only enhancing its narrative accessibility. This languidly poetic left-field masterpiece is another testament to Switzerland’s increasingly respected contemporary film canon.
Sun 4 June 5pm. The Good Postman. BUY TICKETS Dir: Tonislav Hristov 2016 Finland/Bulgaria 82min. A dying town on the Bulgarian-Turkish border (pop. 48 sorry souls, the youth, long departed for Ukraine), is the setting of this chronicle of postman Ivan’s bid for the mayoral chain. His opposition are lazy, Halachev and the incumbent, hilariously dismissive Vesa. Ivan campaigns on his postal route, he wants Syrian refugees who trickle nightly through the streets, to stay and rejuvenate the village. Beautifully made, with the emotional resonance and formal structure of a narrative feature, the film reflects global concerns around identity, compassion and prejudice. By focusing on intimate personal details, The Good Postman, which ends on a delightful high, tells a story that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
Sun 4 June 7:30pm. Deep Blue / Middle C. BUY TICKETS Dir: Bryan Little 2017 SA 60min. This psychedelic surf film emerges from the Elands Bay dustbowl like an LED encrusted crayfish. Acclaimed Fokofpolisiekar and African Cypher director (and two-time Encounters Audience Award winner) Little recruited musicians, sculptors, artists, a coastal forager, underwater wildlife filmmakers, conservation biologists, drone pilots – to spend 10 days and nights at a camp site where they surfed, created artworks, and worked with the local community, celebrating that coast and ocean. Surfing the line between fiction and non, this strangely surreal dreamscape is an invigorating dip into the stream of consciousness of an eccentric and wildly talented bunch.
Mon 5 June 7pm. The Grown-Ups. BUY TICKETS Dir: Maite Alberdi 2016 Chile/Netherlands 80min. “Who are we? Conscious adults,” chorus the protagonists of Alberdi’s empathetic study of four forty-year-old students at a Down’s Syndrome school in Chile where, ironically, the film is titled The Children. Some are mature enough to want it, and yet it ill-equipped to cope with the responsibilities that independence brings, they are stuck. The film points to the failure of a system that does not differentiate, treating them all as minors, without rights. Anita and Andres plan to marry, child-like Rita collects Barbies, and class-president Ricardo saves his money for his independent future. The film reveals the progress and setbacks of their desires, and ultimately accords them the respect that these diverse, enchanting personalities deserve.
Mon 5 June 8:30pm. All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone. BUY TICKETS Dir: Fred Peabody 2016 Canada 93min. Of the great oppositional U.S. journalists, I.F. Stone was surely the most influential. His weekly newsletter exposed government corruption and collusion, and mixed humour and politics to devastating effect. This slickly-shot documentary uses Stone’s legacy as a starting point to profile contemporary independent journalists, and the issues that matter most to them; stories of humanist importance that are usually drowned out by the misinformation megaphone of corporate media, where economic imperatives Trump the societal. This film is an important documentation of journalists and media who provide a counterbalance to power. A welcome tribute, not to the impossible folly of “free” journalism, but to a higher purpose: ethical journalism. Courtesy of FilmsTransit
Tue 6 June 7pm. Last Men in Aleppo. BUY TICKETS. Dir: Feras Fayyad 2017 Denmark/Syria 90min. “That mother@#$%er Bashar has us watching the sky constantly,” says plain-speaking father of two, Khaled, early into this frontline study of three reluctant heroes. Khaled, Mahmoud and Subhi, all volunteers of the White Helmets Syrian Civil Defence, rescue neighbours in war-torn, besieged Aleppo. Fayyad captures the unbroken cycle of waiting and devastation that characterises Syria’s asymmetrical war. When a young boy quizzes Mahmoud about being saved, his rescuer responds: “You’re a flower and you must see life.” At times claustrophobic and tragic, this film is nonetheless leavened by its searing grace. It stands testimony to the humility and determination of the people of Aleppo.
Tue 6 June 8:45 The Challenge & Whipping Zombie (Short). BUY TICKETS The Challenge - Dir: Yuri Ancarani 2016 France/Italy/Qatar 70min. The mystique of the falcon and the obsession to control morning’s minion, stretches back through the mists of time, but nothing will prepare you for this contemporary, blinged Mad Max journey across the Qatari desert towards a falconry competition. Fuelled by the petrodollar, falconry has reached ridiculous heights – prize birds, often costing as much as $24,000, arrive in private jets complete with designer hoods and hand-polished beaks. Their owners speed down empty highways in their Lamborghini’s – with pet cheetah’s in the passenger seat – or on gold-plated Harleys. Set amidst breathtaking desert scenery, rich men bond, but their lives appear all surface and as empty as the dunes
Whipping Zombie. Dir: Yuri Ancarani 2017 Italy/Haiti 28min. The ritual kale zombi – a mix of dance, trance-inducing percussion and flagellation – re-enacts the trauma of slavery in remote Haiti.
Wed 7 June 7pm. Communion & I Made You, I Kill You (Short). BUY TICKETS Dir: Anna Zamecka Poland 2016 72min. Affecting and episodic, Zamecka’s début is about Marek Kaczanowski and his two adolescents. Ola, an extraordinary 14-year- old parents her autistic brother, Nikodem. Mostly set in their welfare apartment, the use of fixed lenses enables a remarkable intimacy; shunning a didactic narrative, and allowing the storyline to unfold through dialogue and acute observation. Masterful editing adds to the unhurried pace and fiction-like unravelling of character. Less a portrait of family dysfunction than an essay in familial tenderness and endurance.
I Made You, I Kill You. Dir: Alexandru Petru 2016. Romania/France 14min. This haunting multimedia film uses a mix of video, animation, photographs, children’s drawings, music and voice-overs to provide an account of the Director’s traumatic childhood.
Wed 7 June 8:45pm. Troupes of War: Diturupa BUY TICKETS. Dirs: Davison Mudzingwa & Lucas Ledwaba 2017 SA 72min. How do you commemorate soldiers who died in wars perpetrated by their oppressors? Mudzingwa and Ledwaba correctly seek no easy answer to this complicated question. At its narrative core is the Ditrupa, a celebration of military history held in Markapanstad, rural North-West – a filtered-down appropriation of Scottish tradition brought back by black South African troops who served in the Great War. As well as covering black military history, the film provides a telling juxtaposition of black memory against white history. Its portraiture of the craft and history of Diturupa, it needles in on an uncomfortable nostalgia that may be a basis of inquiry for future films on the subject. Worthwhile.
Thurs 8 June 7pm. The Fruitless Tree. BUY TICKETS Dir: Aicha Macky 2016 Niger/France 52min. The pejorative label for childless women in Niger provides the title for Macky’s award-winning film that tackles barrenness with surprising openness and honesty. Married and still childless, she explores hers and others private suffering. Macky’s poignant voiceover addresses her mother, who died in childbirth, asking the painful questions that arise during her investigation. The taboo of openly discussing infertility is handled with great sensitivity and what emerges is a community of women who have endured great distress, blamed – rightly or wrongly – for a couple’s inability to conceive. Beautifully shot and artfully composed, this film confronts the unspoken, and gives voice to the barren who wander among mothers.
Thurs 8 June 8:45pm. Laurence Bonvin Shorts. BUY TICKETS In 2017, Visions du Réel in Nyon, Switzerland hosted a Focus on South African documentary production and thus, in keeping with this spirit of cultural dialogue, Encounters in partnership with Swiss Films, will host a showcase of contemporary Swiss documentaries at the Festival this year. Two Swiss filmmakers, Heidi Specogna and Laurence Bonvin, will showcase their work and participate in the Encounters Industry programme.
After Vegas. Dir: Laurence Bonvin & Stéphane Degoutin 2012 USA 21min. Beneath Vegas’ neon and excess is a dilapidated underbelly inhabited by a cast of transitory characters, themselves in varying degrees of dilapidation. Derelict landscapes, abandoned developments, and temporary homes ultimately paint a portrait of the uncertainty of the times we live in.
Sounds of Blikkiesdorp. Dir Laurence Bonvin. 2014 SA 25min. Blikkiesdorp is the Tincantown of Delft, composed of row upon row of corrugated iron shacks. Slow tracking shots across the symmetrical blocks reveal their starkness, but also the resourcefulness and adaptability of humans and metal alike.
Before the Flight Avant l’envol. Dir: Laurence Bonvin. 2016 Côte d’lvoire 20min. This is an architectural tour of remarkable and significant modernist and government buildings of the 60s, 70s and 80s in Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast. They are gradually revealed as are the people who frequent them, their informal appropriation often in stark contrast to the formidable structures.
Fri 9 June 7pm. Forever Pure. BUY TICKETS Dir: Maya Zinshtein. 2016 UK/Israel/Russia 85min. Decades on, the Beitar Jerusalem football team, a bastion of racism, Israel’s hard-right and a symbol for the underprivileged. When owner Arcadi Gaydamak transfers two Muslim players from Chechnya, all hell breaks loose. Fan club La Familia threatens a boycott sparking a violent crisis. Displaying remarkable access, Forever Pure illustrates the difficulty in trying to eradicate racism from a race-based society, as well as the central role that sport all too often plays in the political arena.
Fri 9 June 8:45 Craigslist Allstars & She Whose Blood (Short). BUY TICKETS Dir: Samira Elagoz. 2017 Finland/Netherlands 65min. ‘READ ME! Looking for strangers!’ reads Finnish performance artist Elagoz’s post on Craigslist as she recruits subjects for her daring film. She films a series of unscripted encounters, from the intimate and candid to the bizarre and unexpected with a procession of men, a magician, a sadist pianist, and an exhibitionist. Fearless, dangerously skirting the outer limits of control, Elagoz uses the camera to explore its influence on the intimacy between strangers. An hypnotic collage that moves between innocence and eroticism.
She whose blood is clotting in my underwear. Dir: Vika Kirchenbauer. 2016 Germany 4min. Made for ‘Cool For You’, this experimental short explores thermal vision and the enhanced gaze of 21st Century warfare, remapped onto the intimacy of the human body with sadomasochistic overtones.
Sat 10 June 3pm. Goldplatt. BUY TICKETS. South Africa through the eyes of David Goldblatt is an achingly beautiful place. From his early photographs of Apartheid South Africa to the removal of Rhodes’ statue from UCT, he has chronicled the country as faithfully as this film chronicles his life. Including interviews with Nadine Gordimer, Zanele Muholi and William Kentridge, the intimate portrait of man and country is captivating. We trail him in his campervan, capturing the essence and heartbreak of a land, and which invites deeper scrutiny. Through frank and disarming revelations he shares his views on faith, fear, death and desire. This is a film which invokes a need to see as Goldblatt sees,feel as he feels.
Sat 10 June 5pm. International Shorts. BUY TICKETS
Green Screen Gringo. Dir: Douwe Dijkstra 2016 Netherlands/Brazil 16min. From behind a portable green screen a foreigner explores Brazil’s streets creating playful encounters in that becomes a mixtape-portrait of modern day Brazil.
Jáaji Approx. Dir: Sky Hopinka 2015 USA 8min. Audio recordings made by Hopinka’s father are paired with Hopinka’s voice and videos of places they have separately explored. Haunting sounds and songs in the Hočak language combine with evocative landscapes to create a profoundly personal encounter.
The Jungle Knows You Better Than You Do. Dir: Juanita Onzaga 2017 Belgium/Colombia 20min. Berlinale 2017 Special Prize, International Jury, Best Short. In this mesmerizing fusion of fiction, documentary and surrealism, two siblings roam the mystical landscapes of Colombia in search of their dead father’s spirit.
Lupus.Dir: Carlos Gomez Salamanca 2016 France/Colombia 10 min. In 2011, in Colombia, a security guard was killed by a pack of stray dogs. This experimental short is an abstracted account of the horrific event and explores the social and political backdrop of the housing project that the guard was patrolling.
Polonez / Polonaise. Dir: Agnieszka Elbanowska 2016 Poland 16min. In Aleksandrów Kujawski the director of the culture centre, the mayor, a priest and a poet seek Poland’s number one patriot. Entrants may express their patriotism in any creative form as long as it is their original work. Tensions run high when their patriotism is questioned.
Sat 10 June 8pm. Brexitannia. BUY TICKETS Dir: Timothy George Kelly. 2017 UK/Russia 80min. Brexitannia is a remarkably nuanced exploration of the political and emotional landscape in post-Brexit UK. Shot in black and white, the film is in two parts. First a series of beautifully composed portraits in which a diversity of Brexit voters discuss their gut, nostalgic and sometimes absurd responses to leave or remain, often raising issues that will not be remedied by Brexit. The second consists of compelling interviews with informed experts, notably Noam Chomsky who provides surprising insights to people’s motives. Kelly, tellingly, does not canvas the opinions of any British politicians. The film challenges the binary notion associated with the Brexit vote – national pride and identity – and extends into a complex discussion of the broader global backdrop of the 21st Century.
Sun 11 June 10am Shorts 1 BUY TICKETS:
African Film School. Dir: Roger Horn 2017 SA 5min. Super 8mm home movies of wildlife from 1960s South Africa and Rhodesia are juxtaposed with the audio from a 2007 wildlife film-training programme. Often humorous it reflects on the nature of capturing images in Southern Africa.
Father’s House. Dir: Mia Cilliers & Roxanne Dalton 2016 SA 6min. Clifford Brandon lives in a cave. Guided by God he has painstakingly transformed it into an intricately decorated, multi-roomed home. A gently poetic meditation on the meaning of “home” and what it is that binds us to it.
Mamajara. Dir: Joyce Nkgapele 2016 SA 12min. Mamajara Malope moved to Jozi in 1978, lives alone in a small shack with no communication with, or financial support from her two children. It’s a heartbreaking indictment of poverty among one of Africa’s richest nations.
Promised Land Fallacy. Dir: Kyla Philander 2016 SA 27min. This is the Trans Collective’s story. Any other narrative pertaining to decolonisation in the diaspora excluding the voice of the poor black trans queer bodies is a lie. Let us speak the truth.
Say It With Flowers. Dir: Aryan Kaganoff 2017 SA 25min. A self-described “abuse” of the home movies of Charles Weich, music writer for Die Burger for 30 years under the United Party and the Nats, Say It With Flowers presents a troubling, ghostly document of the melodrama and ritual of colonial-apartheid whiteness in Cape Town.
Sun 11 June 11:45am. Shorts 2 BUY TICKETS:
Don’t Hide The Madness. Dir: Kimberly Rai 2017 SA 24min Don’t Hide The Madness chronicles the experiences of a young woman who is searching for a way to how her parents how it feels to have bipolar disorder. As she explores the creative landscape with the encouragement of her girlfriend, she moves through various metaphors in an attempt to express her condition.
Invasion. Dir: Simon Gush 2017 SA 15min. In 1998, South Africa invaded Lesotho in order to prop up a discredited government. At the time, the South African government spoke about the intervention but it seems that the real motivation for the invasion was the continued flow of water from the Lesotho Highlands to the Vaal dam.
Sheriff or it takes a child to raise the village. Dir: Teboho Edkins 2017 SA/Lesotho 30min. This film follows a young man as he travels through Lesotho showing his film in remote villages and schools. Through his film and personal narration, Sheriff talks to his audiences about gender identity and the frustration of being born the ‘wrong’ sex. His spectators react with surprise and curiosity, but also offer remarkable warmth, love and acceptance that ultimately encourage him to make his choice.
S’lungile: We will be fine. Dir: S’phiwo Mazibuku 2016 SA 11min. S’lungile could herd cattle before she could read or write. Her natural affinity with animals inspires her desire to ultimately become a game ranger. Despite her humble beginnings, S’lungile, with the help of an incredibly proud father, takes the first steps to making her dream a reality.
Sun 11 June 1:15pm. Shorts 3 BUY TICKETS:
As We See It. Dirs: Shirley Gunn & Sharon Farr 2016 SA 32min. As We See It explores the challenges of mainstream versus special schooling for people with albinism and visual impairment associated with the condition, and chronicles many of the challenges that people with albinism face, both in the classroom and beyond.
Loraine. Dir: Nonjabulo Zondo 2016 SA 9min. This film shows the life predicaments of a lesbian woman living on the streets. The ordeals she faces day and night, the hardships of not only being lesbian and living on the streets, but the daily struggles of being a woman that’s separated from family and loved ones due to past mistakes.
Louise’s Miracles. Dir: Pam Sykes 2016 SA 12 min. What happens when a self-professed skeptic befriends someone who’s experienced a miracle? A short film about life, death, doubt, and living joyfully with uncertainty.
Nanlaban Dir: Shaun Swingler 2017 SA/Philippines 12min. With his vocal support for the extrajudicial killing of drug users, President Duterte’s war on drugs has escalated to a critical level. Nanlaban reveals the harrowing and far-reaching consequences of a drug war that is devastating the streets and lives of many Filipino families.
Oscar. Dir: Thandiswa Twecu 2016 SA 11min. Oscar tells the story of world-class dancer Oscar Buthelezi, who was the first dancer to win both the coveted Kurt Jooss Choreography Award and the Audience Choice Award at the prestigious event that took place in Germany in 2016.
Sun 11 June 3pm. Shorts 4 BUY TICKETS:
Africa for Africans. Dir: Jimmy Magala 2017 SA 18 min. This examines the fallout from a spate of xenophobic attacks that took place across KwaZulu-Natal in 2015. A valuable intervention, of quickly forgotten African on African crimes.
Can I Please Go to the Bathroom? Dir: Jessie Zinn 2016 SA 4min. Voice over testimonies of young girls from schools in the Western Cape combine with live action and animation to explore issues that surround the space of the ‘bathroom’. An interactive event presented by Femme Projects will accompany the film.
Interview with Aunt Anthea Dir: Ziyaad Rahman 2016 SA 13min. Ziyaad Rahman, twenty-five, is Muslim and lives in Parow, an area he believes has become a multicultural success. He’d like to discuss the developing environment with his elusive neighbour Aunty Anthea, but he thinks she’s an Islamophobe.
I Walk Alone. Dir: Lauren Groenewald 2016 SA 30min.Here the personal stories of homophobia reveal a world at odds with our constitution, a world where asylum seekers continue to be victimized while applying for refugee status.
Meaning to a Beginning. Dir: Kutlo Justice Mokhethi 2017 SA 7min. This simple short provides lesser-seen insight into the often-discordant beginnings of young musicians and orchestras. Set among a socially-integrated group of children, the next generation of orchestral musicians, Meaning to a Beginning provides an apt metaphor for deliberate integration and transformation in South African society.
Sun 11 June 5pm All Governments Lie. BUY TICKETS
Sun 11 June 7:15pm. Cahier Africain. BUY TICKETS Dir: Heidi Specogna. 2016 Switzerland/Germany 119min. A devastating film sparked by a school exercise book containing 300 courageous testimonies of Central African women, girls, and men, a record of the trauma suffered at the hands of Congolese mercenaries between October 2002 and March 2003. Filmed over seven years Cahier Africain follows both the progress of the exercise book as it makes its way to a vault at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and the quiet desperation of the women who display extraordinary courage. Just as the pages of the exercise book bore witness to their experiences, so too does this film bear witness to a country torn apart by war and coup d’états.