Encounters Documentary Film Festival

Thursday Jun 6 - Sunday Jun 16       286 Fox St, Maboneng
The annual Encounters Festival returns to Joburg for its 21st edition with an incredible programme of 65 local and international documentary films screening over ten days at The Bioscope independent cinema in Maboneng and at Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank Mall.

Presenting a selection of some of the very best contemporary documentary films from across the world, Encounters covers an array of topics and styles, from thrillers and mockumentaries to engrossing biopics, shedding light on some of the most urgent political and social issues facing society today and sharing the stories and passions of iconic figures like Fela Kuti, OR Tambo, Miles Davis and Mikhael Gorbachev. View the full film schedule online and book your tickets at

Here's our pick of some of the biggest highlights of this year's Encounters festival programme:

Talking About Trees
Mon Jun 10 at 20:45 and Thu Jun 13 at 19:00 at The Bioscope 
Winner of the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, this film follows two of the one-time luminaries of Sudanese cinema – Ibrahim Shaddad and Suleiman Mohamed – and their friends Suliman Enour and Eltayeb Mahdi as they attempt to revive cinema in a country where movies have been banned for years. Since 1989 the Moscow-educated filmmakers have headed the Sudanese Film Centre and now they are taking their fight to keep the spirit of cinema alive in Sudan to the next level, by hosting a screening in an enormous outdoor cinema. An equally sad and charming tribute to the love of cinema, that is particularly poignant given the spirit of defiance and protest, and violent government repression, currently engulfing Sudan.

My Friend Fela
Fri Jun 7 at 19:00 at The Bioscope 
Sat Jun 15 at 17:30 at Cinema Nouveau Rosebank

Essential viewing for fans of the Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti. My Friend Fela explores the life of the legendary Nigerian musician as seen from the perspective of his long-time friend Carlos Moore. Placing Fela's life firmly within the Black Consciousness movement, the film follows Fela's relationships with the women in his life and his travels to London and New York – where he was confronted with his own blackness and African identity for the first time – to his ascent as one of the world's most influential African musicians. A portrait of a remarkable man and a tribute to the Pan-African generation.

The Space Theatre of Survival
Sun Jun 16 at 20:00 at The Bioscope 

Beginning in 1972, at the height of the apartheid struggle, this film details the brave group who risked everything to build a safe non-racial space dedicated to artistic, social, and political freedoms, through the medium of theatre. Featuring Athol Fugard (now the most performed playwright in the world after Shakespeare), John Kani and Winston Ntshona, Fatima Dike, Nomhle Nkonyeni, Wilson Dunster, Percy Sieff, Richard E Grant, and many more, The Space is the story of the theatre and community that gave birth to some of South Africa’s most important writing and acting talents.

The Silence of Others
Sun 16 Jun at 17:30 at The Bioscope 

In this mesmerising and inspiring, multi-award winning film, produced by Pedro Almodovar, the survivors of human-rights abuses of horrifying dimensions committed under the regime of Generalissimo Franco in Spain, battle to bring their persecutors to justice. After 40 years of Franco’s rule, the Spanish government still imposes an amnesia on the past, making it impossible to prosecute historical abuses. The film follows the trajectory of the historic Argentine Lawsuit which prosecutes the abuses which happened in Spain from beyond its borders.

Meeting Gorbachev
Wed Jun 12 at 21:00 at The Bioscope 
Sun Jun 16 at 20:00 at Cinema Nouveau Rosebank

Werner Herzog's latest documentary film sees the renowned German filmmaker heading to Russia to meet former Soviet Union leader Mikhael Gorbachev. A compelling look back at the turbulent history of the dying days of Soviet communism, as seen from the perspective of a leader who stood right in the middle of it.  

Mon Jun 10 at 19:00 Cinema Nouveau Rosebank
Sat Jun 15 at 17:30 The Bioscope 

Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2019 Oscars, RBG takes a personal look at the very public life of 85-year old U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The film explores how Justice Ginsburg's notoriety as a trailblazing women's rights lawyer and outspoken Supreme Court Justice has inexplicably transcended into that of a mythological pop culture icon, "the notorious RBG", seen as one of the essential bastions of dissent against the current presidential administration.

View the full Encounters Festival programme online here.



Jun 6 2019 - Jun 16 2019
The Bioscope
286 Fox St, Maboneng
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