4 June 2014

South Africa: 2014 - Encounters With Documentary Filmmaking


"In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director," Alfred Hitchcock once intoned. South African documentary-lovers have their annual opportunity for praise and worship, because it's that time of year: the Encounters Documentary Festival is kicking off in Cape Town and Johannesburg this weekend. REBECCA DAVIS takes a look at what's on offer, and makes some recommendations.

It's very rare that you get to see documentaries on the big screen in South Africa. Searching for Sugar Man was a recent exception, and as Marianne Thamm pointed out in Daily Maverick yesterday, Ster-Kinekor deserves applause for showing Rehad Desai's Marikana doccie Miners Shot Down in cinemas around the country at the moment. For the rest of it, though, documentaries seem to be assumed to be offerings of limited interest, confined to specialist festivals like Encounters.

One happy result of this lamentable situation is that the Encounters team always has a huge amount of potential films to introduce to South African audiences. On this occasion, programmer Jenna Bass told the Daily Maverick, they reviewed around 400 films from around the world, and selected 21 international and 24 South African and African documentaries to show.

"The defining thing...

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