Audience Awards


The Backsberg Encounters Audience Awards

and the

Bertha Foundation-Encounters-Guardian Development Prize

Over 10,000 people flocked to Encounters this year, enjoying the offerings of film screenings, a Virtual Reality and Interactive documentary exhibition, Master Classes, Industry presentations, pitching sessions and live events.

Action Kommandant: the Untold Story of the Revolutionary Freedom Fighter Ashley Kriel and Maya Angelou: And  Still I Rise win the  Encounters Audience Awards sponsored by Backsberg Estate Cellars at the 18th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival

Action Kommandant: The Untold Story of the Revolutionary Freedom Fighter Ashley Kriel has won the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival audience award for Best South African Film.  The Festival ended on Sunday, 12 June 2016.

With a Festival record of 7 sold out screenings, Nadine Cloete’s début feature explores the story of anti-apartheid student activist Ashley Kriel. The film resonated deeply with audiences and underlined the continued importance of making the voices and actions of those who fought against the apartheid state visible to all.

Close on the heels of Action Kommandant was Ben Stillerman’s Taking Stock, a charming, bittersweet portrait of his shopkeeper-philosopher father; and Mr. Table Tennis, by Tina-Louise Smith, an inter-generational story about table tennis champions Pedro and Cody Meyer.

Audiences also voted Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise as Best International film. Directed by the three-time Emmy award-winning Rita Coburn Whack, together with Bob Hercules, this beautifully crafted film tells of Angelou’s rise from a life of oppression to triumph. Angelou, the author of the seminal ‘Í Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ and other writings, was an inspiration for generations of readers and activists.

Runners-up included Tora Mkandawire Mårtens’ film, Martha & Niki, which followed the lives and friendship of two hip hop dancers; and Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami’s Sonita the story of young woman rapper from Afghanistan living in Tehran.

Encounters is also delighted to announce the winner of the inaugural Brief Encounters Pitch and the Bertha Foundation-Guardian-Encounters Development Prize of US$ 2,000. The winning pitch is The Grave Diggers by Kristen van Schie.

Charlie Phillips, Head of Documentary at the Guardian said, “The Grave Diggers combines history, personal narrative and journalism to explore the critical role of reconciliation in South African and contemporary society. We look forward to working more with Kristen and helping to develop the story.”

Encounters ran from 2-12 June 2016 in Cape Town and Johannesburg – screening 57 documentaries from across the globe.”

“This year’s Festival was an incredible success with strong audience responses to a wide variety of films that saw many sold out screenings,” says newly appointed Festival Director Darryl Els. “We’re especially pleased at the overwhelming response to our new Festival sections such as our new media platform, Virtual Encounters and the live events.”

For Further information please contact Joy Sapieka on 073 212 5492 or Tarha McKenzie on 021 465 4686.