Every year since our founding in 2010, The Bioscope has proudly hosted screenings of The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival. Always a highlight in our calendar, the festival returns this year with limited physical screenings at The Bioscope supported by the Goethe-Institut South Africa from 11-20 June. Tickets are R70. For more information on the festival as a whole, please visit encounters.co.za
Below is our program. Please scroll down further to see more information on each film.
11 JUNE 7pm. A PORTRAIT ON THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS BOOK NOW.
11 JUNE 8:15pm. PRESIDENT BOOK NOW.
12 JUNE 6pm. WRITING WITH FIRE BOOK NOW.
12 JUNE 7:45pm. WE RISE FOR OUR LAND BOOK NOW.
13 JUNE 6pm. I AM SAMUEL BOOK NOW.
13 JUNE 7:30pm. DARE TO DREAM, ZIP ZAP CIRCUS BOOK NOW.
14 JUNE 7pm. I AM HERE (with Q&A) BOOK NOW.
14 JUNE 8:30. KING BANSAH AND HIS DAUGHTER BOOK NOW.
15 JUNE 7pm. ZINDER BOOK NOW.
15 JUNE 8:30pm. COLLECTIVE BOOK NOW.
16 JUNE 5pm. I, MARY (with Q&A) BOOK NOW.
16 JUNE 7pm. THE COLONEL’S STRAY DOGS BOOK NOW.
17 JUNE 7pm. DOWNSTREAM TO KINSHASA BOOK NOW.
18 JUNE 6:15pm MURDER IN PARIS (with Q&A) BOOK NOW.
19 JUNE 6pm MUTANT BOOK NOW.
19 JUNE 7:30pm WE ARE ZAMA ZAMA BOOK NOW.
20 JUNE 5pm MURDER IN PARIS (with Q&A) SOLD OUT
11 JUNE 7pm. A PORTRAIT ON THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS BOOK NOW. In South Africa’s stark Northern Cape, the search for a better life has its inhabitants literally scratching in the dust for their own share of the diamonds that have brought so much wealth to so few. Part intimate series of character portraits, part poetic meditation on land and myth and part contemporary document of a region wracked by economic hardship, A Portrait on the Search for Happiness juxtaposes elegant cinematography and sensitive storytelling with raw truths about today’s South Africa.
11 JUNE 8:15pm. PRESIDENT BOOK NOW. This gripping documentary from Camilla Nielssen, who gave us 2016’s Democrats, chronicles the 2018 Zimbabwe election in remarkable detail. Playing much like a political thriller – although some of the real-life events might not be believable in a fiction film – the film documents the election battle between Nelson Chamisa of the MDC opposition party and Zanu-PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa.
12 JUNE 6pm. WRITING WITH FIRE BOOK NOW. This highly engaging feature debut tells the story of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only all-female newspaper, as it makes the transition to digital in order to increase its reach. Put together entirely by the Dalit women, some of whom had never used a cellphone before, and led by Meera, their chief reporter, the online version of the paper quickly gains traction, and soon their YouTube channel is racking up millions of views, despite the numerous challenges they face.
12 JUNE 7:45pm. WE RISE FOR OUR LAND BOOK NOW. The criminalisation of social movements in Southern Africa has become a major area of concern, as land activists and smallholder farmers face increasing repression from national governments and corporate interests. Focusing on Mozambique, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), and Zambia, We Rise for Our Land seeks to address these issues and gain an understanding of why activists continue to be harassed by the state despite the existence of numerous legal frameworks that promise and promote basic human dignity.
13 JUNE 6pm. I AM SAMUEL BOOK NOW. In this tender but powerful film, Samuel, a gay Kenyan man, has to balance his duty to his family with his love for his partner, Alex, in a country where their relationship is criminalised.
13 JUNE 7:30pm. DARE TO DREAM, ZIP ZAP CIRCUS BOOK NOW. This documentary about Cape Town’s Zip Zap Circus is as charming, entertaining, and heartfelt as one of the social circus’s performance events. As a social circus, Zip Zap trains young people, often from the most impoverished areas of Cape Town, and encourages them to realise that anything is possible and embrace their dreams.
14 JUNE 7pm. I AM HERE (with Q&A) BOOK NOW. This powerful film offers a portrait of 98-year-old Polish Holocaust survivor Ella Blumenthal, whose vibrance and vitality has not been dimmed by either age or the weight of the terrible events she has endured.
14 JUNE 8:30. KING BANSAH AND HIS DAUGHTER BOOK NOW. Céphas Bansah is from Ghana and is king of the Ewe people, who number about 200,000, although he lives in the German city of Ludwigshafen where he runs an auto repair shop. His daughter Katharina, whose mother is German, is an artist, feminist, and free spirit – and the ostensible heir to the Ewe throne. As the social climate in Germany changes, they both experience racism and hostility.
15 JUNE 7pm. ZINDER BOOK NOW. Located in the heart of the Sahel, Zinder is Niger’s second largest city and home to numerous unemployed youths who are swelling the ranks of violent gangs. Director Aïcha Macky returns to her hometown, specifically the marginalised district of Kara-Kara where she was born and which is the epicentre of the violence, to explore the origins of the radicalisation that is spreading through Zinder, and the prospects for young men escaping it.
15 JUNE 8:30pm. COLLECTIVE BOOK NOW. This masterfully observed film documents the events that took place in Romania when Colectiv, a Bucharest nightclub, burned down, killing 36 people and wounding numerous others, many of whom died later, not as a result of their burns but due to bacterial infection in state hospitals.
16 JUNE 5pm. I, MARY (with Q&A) BOOK NOW. I, Mary takes an in-depth and highly intimate look at the experience of albinism through the eyes of Maryregina Ndlovu, an activist who has made it her personal mission to make albinism more visible in society and the media.
16 JUNE 7pm. THE COLONEL’S STRAY DOGS BOOK NOW. With a million-dollar bounty on his head, Ashur Shamis lived for years in Muammar Gadaffi’s crosshairs. A profile of a political activist as well as a portrait of a father and the family worried for decades for his safety, The Colonel’s Stray Dogs sees filmmaker Khalid Shamis return home to explore his father’s role in the Libyan resistance to Colonel Gadaffi’s brutal rule, both in Libya and from exile in London.
17 JUNE 7pm. DOWNSTREAM TO KINSHASA BOOK NOW. For six days in June 2000, a bloody war was waged in the city of Kisangani, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as troops from neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda fought for control of the region’s mining wealth. The brief but bloody war left around 1,000 people dead, and at least 3,000 wounded. For two decades, Kisangani’s civilian victims have been fighting for recognition of this bloody conflict and demanding the compensation they were promised.
18 JUNE 6:15pm MURDER IN PARIS (with Q&A) BOOK NOW. This forensic documentary chronicles activist and investigative journalist Evelyn Groenink’s 30-year-long quest to get to the bottom of the murder of Dulcie September, the Chief Representative of the African Nation Congress in France at the time, in Paris in March 1988.
19 JUNE 6pm MUTANT BOOK NOW. This dense but carefully paced film provides an impressionistic portrait of hip-hop juggernaut Isaac Mutant – a member of Dookoom and Koloured Ass Krooks and an MC in his own right – and the Cape Flats community he lives in.
19 JUNE 7:30pm WE ARE ZAMA ZAMA BOOK NOW. For more than a century, South Africa was the world’s largest producer of gold, more of the precious metal having been extracted from its reserves than in the rest of the world combined. Today, however, many of these mines have closed and new waves of migrants are entering the abandoned but unsealed mine shafts to scavenge for the remaining gold.
20 JUNE 5pm MURDER IN PARIS (with Q&A) SOLD OUT.