Docs showing at this year’s Festival
This delicately observed document of a halfway house in Eastern Ukraine, for children who have been removed from their parents, is gently transcendent despite its bleak subject matter. Following the lives of several of the children, the film allows its young protagonists to lead the way rather than imposing any preconceptions on them.
It is a high-stakes mock legal battle played out in the constitutional court, where the prize is glory in a continent-wide contest called the African Moot. The story follows the emotional journey of Africa’s future human rights law students as they gather to debate the human rights issues currently facing Africa.
Engaging with women and non-binary people across the film sector, Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power brilliantly explores the male gaze in cinema. Adapted from a lecture given by filmmaker Nina Menkes, this powerful documentary dissects the elements that contribute to the objectification of women by the camera, and the audience by extension.
This insightful chronicle of the life of legendary human rights advocate, George Bizos, is a timely reminder of where we have come from and how we got to where we are as a country. From his early friendship with Nelson Mandela, to his central involvement in the Rivonia Trial and numerous other seminal legal events, to his role in the authoring of the South African constitution, Bizos’ life was so intimately linked to key political events that this film should be required viewing for anyone interested in the history of the country.
When their three-day-old baby goes missing from Groote Schuur Hospital, the event comes to define the lives of Celeste and Mourne Nurse. Over the course of the next 17 years, they move through a relentless cycle of hope and despair, never giving up the search for Zephany, their missing daughter. Girl, Taken provides a full account of a story that has long occupied South Africa’s imagination.
A South African born in the early 1900s when culture was religion, Manche Masemola died for her Christian beliefs at the age of 15. Having become widely popular after her death and being depicted in a statue above Westminster Abbey, London’s Great West Door, this intriguing documentary examines the events surrounding her death through interviews with the people who were familiar with the story and those from her village.
Navalny provides an account of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s former opposition leader, in the wake of his poisoning in August 2020. Made with remarkable access to its subject and his family and colleagues, the film follows Navalny as he recuperates in Berlin and unravels the at times ludicrously stupid plot to kill him, assisted by the forensic skills of the citizen-powered investigative unit Bellingcat.
The Conductor illuminates the world of classical music performance today through the life of the astonishing internationally renowned conductor Marin Alsop. As one of the first female conductors, with stunning accomplishments including winning the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant and currently holding the position of the music director of three orchestras internationally, the film reveals Alsop’s struggles and triumphs to reach the top.
The Radical introduces us to 54-year-old Muhsin Hendricks, a South African man believed to be the first openly gay imam. Hendricks leads a devoted group of queer muslims, having started an organisation to support the LGBTQI+ community and running a personal empowerment programme that helps muslims reconcile their sexuality with their faith.
As an indigenous language of South Africa, The Voice Behind The Wall explores the history of Afrikaans through its use in music. With the help of artists who contributed to Afrikaans’ cultural development, this documentary aims to show how it evolved from working-class music of the early 1930s to a voice advocating for the unjust apartheid system in the 1980s.
Transactions follows a relatable Zimbabwean family with members scattered across the globe. From South Africa to the United Kingdom, Katedza investigates the causes and effects of migration, tracing the contradictions inherent via the lives of the family members living abroad but carrying home with them.