Portraits, human stories and activists are all part of the new look Encounters from the International arms deal to the late great American poet /writer Maya Angelou, this year's Encounters International Film Festival promises to bring local audiences the very best in documentary cinema.
With a fabulous contemporary programme that includes the debut feature about anti-apartheid student activist Ashley Kriel (The Hawks have been forced to reopen his murder case); A film that tackles the current educational crisis gripping the country voicing the students' call to action and a previously unseen interview with the world famous intellectual Noam Chomsky on inequality of wealth and power.
The 2016 festival also breaks the traditional view of what documentary cinema is supposed to be. Meaning and relevance are taken to new heights with a number of exciting special festival events. Virtual Encounters, a virtual reality and interactive documentary exhibition, will create a festival platform for interactive non-fiction story telling while celebrated UK electronic music duo, Darkstar, will perform two shows of their new album weaving together audio documentary and their signature electronica to create a portrait of the frustrations and dreams of disaffected youth.
The first films for the 2016 Encounters Film Festival to be screened (from 2-12 June at the Labia in Cape Town and the Bioscope in Joburg) are announced as follows.
Action Kommandant: The Untold Story of a Guerrilla - Nadine Cloete's debut feature explores the story of anti-apartheid student activist Ashley Kriel. This is the kind of documentary we need in South Africa; one which makes us confront our past, making the voices and actions of those who fought against apartheid visible to us. Recently, the film has forced the Hawks to reopen the case of Kriel's murder.
In Walking in My Shoes -Directors Lauren Groenewald and Andy Spitz explore South Africa's education system with devastating effect. Through the voices of students, parents, teachers and principals, this is a hard-hitting, timely and vital call-to-action of what is arguably one of South Africa's biggest crises.
Alison - Uga Carlini's hybrid feature documentary on Alison Botha is a deeply personal and emotional story of triumph and survival. Using a creative and innovative 'fairytale' aesthetic, Carlini's film is a poetic and insightful exploration of trauma and overcoming.
Maya Angelou and Still I Rise - The first documentary about the late great American poet Maya Angelou. With unprecedented access, directors Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules have created an incredible portrait of one the most influential writers of our time.
Shadow World - Based upon former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein's bestselling expose of the global arms trade, director Johan Grimonprez takes us deep into the murky world of illicit deals, corrupt governments and arms dealers.
Requiem for an American Dream - Said to be his last full-length interview, one of the world's most important intellectuals, Noam Chomsky gives a definitive and thought-provoking account of global inequality and how wealth and power come to rest in the hands of a select few.
And special events ,
Virtual Encounters: A Virtual Reality & Interactive Documentary Exhibition - The first dedicated festival platform for creative multi-platform non-fiction storytelling. Curated by Ingrid Kopp (of Tribeca Film Institute), Encounters will present a selection of new Virtual Reality work, interactive online documentaries, as well as host a live VR event with invited digital artists and filmmakers. The platform seeks to introduce local audiences and film-makers to the exciting world of interactive and immersive digital documentary storytelling.
Darkstar: A Live Music Event in partnership with the British Council - Foam Island, the new album from innovative British electronic music duo Darkstar documents young people's frustrations and dreams in Huddersfield, England and hopes to speak directly to the politics of disaffected South African youth. Use of audio-documentary and the strong political dimension, makes it a perfect addition to the 2016 Encounters line-up. Darkstar, in collaboration with Encounters will transpose the album to a local setting with the band to record audio and visual interviews during its time here and present the work at live shows.