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Welcome to the 24th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival!  

Mandisa Zitha Festival Director


It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to the 24th edition of the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival.

After two years of presenting the #VirtuallyEverywhere online festival, we are thrilled  to be returning to in-person screenings #BackTogether. In the era of the Covid-19 pandemic, Encounters has been a part of a global festival movement to shift the traditional festival model to online platforms and achieve unprecedented access. Our vision for 2022 offers both physical screenings and online Encounters Talks. Our hope for the future is to continue to delight audiences across the country with the best documentaries from around the world with increased access.

We invite you to join us in Cape Town and Johannesburg for 10 days of inspiring films, Q&As, panel discussions and to meet our talented directors. I hope you will enjoy meaningful conversations with fellow cinephiles at our various cinemas across both cities. The Encounters Talks online programme features five panel discussions in collaboration with multiple industry organisations, encompassing a wide range of topics targeting filmmakers with varying levels of experience.These conversations are shaped by storytellers from our curated documentaries and various experts including local and international filmmakers, editors, producers, distribution experts, academics, psychologists, lawyers, education specialists, and many more.

Our programming team was excited to receive a significant number of independent projects by  exceptional filmmakers and has been captivated by their work.  Our carefully curated line-up of 53 titles, including shorts and features, with extended reality amongst them, highlights the most anticipated international films on circuit, alongside original African storytelling. Our passion is to present films that educate, entertain and leave a lasting impact.

Encounters is proud to screen no fewer than 29 South African films and 7 World Premières. A notable number of our films are directed by talented women and we are excited  to showcase the works of emerging and established filmmakers through the shorts programme.

We have some excellent  films from all corners of the continent including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Sudan and Zimbabwe. The Opening Night film, “Music is My Life” Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, directed by Mpumi “Supa” Mbele, profiles the legendary doyenne of South Africa’s unique isicathamiya music and the group that delivered it to the global stage.

Our heartfelt congratulations to the accomplished filmmakers whose films we are presenting this year!

Film Partnerships

Encounters’ partnerships have enabled the festival to secure quality documentaries for our programme. This year, the Goethe-Institut South Africa presents Among Us Women, co-directed by Sarah Noa Bozenhardt and Daniel Abate Tilahun.  The Embassy of Ireland is supporting the screenings and panel discussion for Young Plato, co-directed by Neaasa Ni Chianáin and Declan McGrath, and the Cape Town and Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centres are supporting Three Minutes – A Lengthening. 


Rough Cut Lab

The 4th Rough Cut Lab Africa in partnership with the NFVF, SAGE, DocA and The Refinery, has invited eight African documentary film projects in the late offline stage to pair up directors and editors on the projects, with African story consultants from all fields of filmmaking. 


Outreach and Youth Programmes

We have partnered with Vuma Pop-up Cinema to provide small capacity screenings to young people in Houtbay, Phillipi, Kraaifontein, and Paarl. We continue to work with our satellite venues: Bertha House Mowbray and Bertha Movie House Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha to include other audiences beyond the city centre.

I wish to thank all our funders and partners without whom we would not be able to host this annual event, The National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa, The City of Cape Town, Bertha Foundation, Wesgro, Goethe-Insititut, Embassy of Ireland, The Cape Town Holocaust Centre, Spier Wines, Ladima Foundation and our esteemed Industry Organisations for their continued support.

I also wish to thank the Encounters Board, who provide support throughout the year.

Thank you to the amazing Team that puts this festival together: Carol, Tarha, Taryn, Taahir, Jade, Joy, Freddy, Toby, Ashleigh, Fanney, Nhlanhla, Kimbal, Sara, Sade, Darrel and Shukry, our wonderful NFVF Interns, Kealoboga and Sher, our Connect123 intern, Lara, as well as Kim and our amazing volunteers.

Let’s get together again.

Mandisa Zitha

Festival Director


Killarney Mall, 60 Riviera Rd. Killarney. JNB


44 Stanley Ave Milpark Johannesburg


68 Orange St Gardens Cape Town

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.