The Programmers of the 2021 Encounters South African International Documentary Festival announce the Best Feature and Short Documentaries of the Year.
“It was an exceedingly difficult decision to select the winners for the Programmer’s Choice Awards. This year we were spoiled for choice with a wide range of excellent films that creatively stretched the documentary form to bring us fresh perspectives on important issues.” says Mandisa Zitha, Festival Director.
The winners will receive cash prizes.
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE: WINNER
Dir Camilla Neilsson
It’s a narrative familiar almost to the point of apathy, but the boldness, access and intimacy of this film hammers home the frustration and continual strain of fighting for political power in Zimbabwe, against a system so corrupted that it almost seems unsurmountable, and gives the struggle a human face by going behind the scenes with the young MDC leaders taking the fight onto their underfunded and relatively fresh shoulders. The film’s sucker punch ending, steeply contrasted against the relentless hope of the film, doesn’t hurt any less because we already know the outcome three years on.
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE: SPECIAL MENTION
Dir Volkan Üce
Dir Alexander Nanou
AFRICAN/SOUTH AFRICAN FEATURE: WINNER
France/ Mali/ South Africa
Dir Ousmane Samassekou
We were moved by The Last Shelter, which gave us full access to the House of Migrants, in the Malin City of Gao, a haven for African travellers. Ousmane Samasseku’s great access to the two young protagonists, the intimacy of the observational style filming against the vast melancholy landscape of the desert made this a favourite with the programming team. The Last Shelter was successful in achieving the purpose of documentary; to cast a lens on world issues through the experiences of its subjects.
AFRICAN/SOUTH AFRICAN FEATURE: SPECIAL MENTION
Dir Khalid Shamis
Dir Lebogang Rasethaba & Ntatho Mokgata
INTERNATIONAL SHORTS: WINNER
Syria | Turkey
Dir Malaz Usta
A well-deserved winner that stole our hearts with its visual artistry and sonic mastery to tell this familiar story in a new and fresh way. With a touching narration of how it feels to be uprooted, director Malaz Usta, takes us through each month of his exile. Visual montage, graphic design and editing work together in this exceptional documentary to construct snippets of moments, people and spaces that encompass the refugee experience. The film excellently captures the emotions of the displaced and draws the audience into a place where they too can identify in a most intimate manner.
INTERNATIONAL SHORTS: SPECIAL MENTION
Dir Ina Holmqvist and Martina Carlstedt
AFRICAN/SOUTH AFRICAN SHORTS: WINNER
Dir P.J. Kotze
Ulwandle (The Ocean) captures the stories of two different types of South African fisherman and their relationship with the ocean. Through the two relatable characters and masterful cinematography, director P.J.Kotze was able to show us the importance of this form of artisanry for the livelihoods of many South Africans. He emphasises the relationship between man and ocean whilst highlighting the respect that underpins this. We also come to understand the challenges that are faced by small-scale fishermen in the current conservation climate. The story is not only beautifully told but educational in its subject matter and refreshing in its inclusive representation of the indigenous peoples’ fishing culture.
AFRICAN/SOUTH AFRICAN SHORTS: SPECIAL MENTION
Dir Christopher Clark and Shaun Swingler