Encounters: South African International Documentary Festival kicks off its 15th anniversary edition tonight, Thursday, June 6. The festival runs through Sunday, June 16, with screenings in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Nearly thirty feature docs will screen, starting with local opening night film, Riaan Hendricks’ THE DEVIL’S LAIR, fresh off its Hot Docs debut last month.
Other films in the fest’s African Docs section that look intriguing are: Mark J Kaplan and Heidi Grunebaum’s THE VILLAGE UNDER THE FOREST, uncovering the dark truth behind a supposed charitable South African supported forest in Israel; Dylan Valley’s INCARCERATED KNOWLEDGE, following an ex-con as he tries to make it on the outside; Tamarin Kaplan and Marla Altschuler’s THE WHITE PICKET FENCE PROJECT, a parallel look at a young Roma and a young Loyiso man; and Aryan Kaganof’s AN INCONSOLABLE MEMORY (pictured), the story of a South African group that promoted classical music across racial lines starting in 1933.
Encounters puts the spotlight on world cinema in its International strand. Included here are: Yoav Shamir’s 10% – WHAT MAKES A HERO, a quest to understand altruism; Stéphanie Argerich’s BLOODY DAUGHTER (pictured), a daughter’s portrait of her acclaimed pianist mother; and Katrine W Kjaer’s MERCY MERCY, a look at a complex and difficult transnational adoption from Ethiopia to Denmark.
Female filmmakers take the stage in Women Direct, which features: Tapiwa Chipfupa’s THE BAG ON MY BACK (pictured), a reckoning with the destructive changes made to Zimbabwe within the filmmaker’s lifetime; Nadia El Fani and Alina Isabel Pérez’s NO HARM DONE, a personal meditation on Tunisia and on the filmmaker’s cancer; and Shannon Wlsh and Arya Lalloo’s JEPPE ON A FRIDAY, the record of one inner city neighborhood through its residents on one street in one day.
Wrapping up the fest’s sections are a series coordinated with Al Jazeera, THE NEW AFRICAN PHOTOGRAPHY, an omnibus that portrays three African photographers and their work; and a selection from the Why Poverty? series, including Ben Lewis’ POOR US: AN ANIMATED HISTORY (pictured).