Encounters South African International Documentary Festival

Encounters South African International Documentary Festival
Photo: encounters.co.za
The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, often referred to as simply Encounters, is the premier documentary film festival in Africa and one of the longest-running film events on the continent. Its main aim is to promote and support documentary filmmaking in Africa and to provide an African platform for international documentaries.

The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival was founded in 1999. It runs concurrently in two cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg. The main objective of the event is to develop the country’s documentary industry, both in terms of increasing production and introducing the genre to a wide audience. Encounters actively seeks to support and promote local and African films, filmmakers and festivals in the domestic and international market. It also puts great emphasis on supporting educational projects.

Encounters attracts over 11,000 viewers every year (combined attendance for the Cape Town event and the Johannesburg event). Since its inception, the festival has screened over 1,400 documentaries, of which about a third were made by South African filmmakers. Alongside film screenings, its rich and diverse program features Q&A sessions with filmmakers and other industry professionals, workshops, panel discussions, and other events.

Encounters doesn’t have an official competition and a jury, but it presents an annual Audience Award for Best South African Film and Best International Film. All feature, mid-length and short documentary films screened during the festival are eligible for these awards, winners are chosen by popular vote.

Since the main goal of the Encounters Film Festival is to support the development of documentary filmmaking, special attention is paid to industry events for up-and-coming filmmakers. From 1999 to 2007, the festival held the Film Laboratory that gave first-time directors a unique opportunity to work with a team of experienced industry professionals. The week-long laboratory culminated with a pitching session. Another project run by the festival is the Producers Workshop for emerging film producers.

In 2020 and 2021, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Encounters Film Festival

Photo: encounters.co.za



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