Saturday 3 June, 2 – 3pm

Workshop 17, 17 Dock Road,
V&A Waterfront


Saturday 3 June, 3.15 – 4pm

Workshop 17, 17 Dock Road,
V&A Waterfront


Wesgro Film and Media Promotion Unit (FMP) Support Services

Wesgro is the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency, for the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province, which champions economic opportunities for the region. Wesgro also has the mandate for film and media promotion, so find out how our FMP support services are able to help your company grow.

Sunday 11 June, 3.30 – 4:30pm

Workshop 17, 17 Dock Road,
V&A Waterfront


The American Film Showcase (AFS) brings award-winning contemporary American documentary and independent narrative films to audiences around the world, offering a view of American society and culture as seen by independent filmmakers. Funded by a grant from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and produced by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), the Showcase highlights the value of film in fostering understanding and cooperation, dialogue and debate. The AFS films explore diverse topics including civil rights, disabilities, social justice, sports, freedom of the press, technology and the environment.

For more information visit:

American Spaces are a worldwide network of publicly-accessible places that enable U.S. Embassies and Consulates to build and strengthen relationships with host country communities, showcase American culture and values, promote English language learning, encourage study in the United States, and foster goodwill and mutual understanding. This initiative exemplifies the U.S. commitment to a core tenet of democracy: a citizen’s right to free access to information.

American Corner Cape Town and Rosa Parks Library and Innovation Studio in Soweto will be hosting filmmakers’ workshops and events in support of Encounters Documentary Festival. Follow us on Facebook for more information about dates, times and locations.

Lina Srivastava is a social innovation strategist, working at the intersection of social action, interactive media, and narrative design. The founder of CIEL | Creative Impact and Experience Lab, a social innovation strategy group in New York City, Lina has been involved in social engagement campaigns for several documentaries, including Oscar-winner Born into Brothels, Emmy-nominated The Devil Came on Horseback, Oscar-winner Inocente, and Sundance-winner Who Is Dayani Cristal?, and How to Let Go of the World.

The former Executive Director of Kids with Cameras, and the Association of Video and Filmmakers, Lina has worked on strategic project design for social impact organizations, including UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank, and the AARP. She is on faculty in the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Design and Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts. Lina is a Fulbright Specialist candidate, on the US State Department’s American Film Showcase roster, a Rockwood Institute/JustFilms Fellow, a recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation leadership grant, a Civic Hall Labs Fellow, a Boehm Media Fellow, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Lina is a graduate of New York University School of Law.

Make Your Film Matter

In response to the rapid rise of impact campaigns and a need for films that bring about meaningful change, Impact Strategy and Transmedia specialist Srivastava will deliver a powerhouse session on how to transform creative communications into calls to action. Creator of the Transmedia Activism framework, which guides the development of media and technology projects from story to social action, she will take filmmakers through the process of designing an effective, comprehensive campaign to increase the reach and impact of their films.

This Master Class is pitched at seasoned producers, but all are welcome.

Saturday 3 June, 11am – 1pm
Workshop 17 17 Dock Road V&A Waterfront

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


Carolyn Hepburn is an Emmy Award nominated Producer, who co-produced Oscar nominated  Life, Animated and executive produced Weiner, winner of the 2016 Sundance US Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

Hepburn produced 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets, the 2015 Sundance Special Jury Prize for Social Impact winner and shortlisted for the 2016 Academy Award.

Hepburn’s credits also include Indian Point, Chicken People, The 100 Years Show, Art and Craft (shortlisted for the 2015 Academy Award), God Loves Uganda (shortlisted for the 2014 Academy Award), and Gideon’s Army (winner of the 2013 Sundance Editing Award).

Creative Producing

Producer Hepburn will take filmmakers through the ins-and-outs of producing that first feature.

Hepburn will share tips from her extensive work in the field and examples from her own films.

Especially recommended for those tackling that first feature but all welcome to join as a great refresher check.

Saturday 10 June, 10am – 11:45am
Workshop 17 17 Dock Road V&A Waterfront

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


Innovative next-generation filmmakers Sarah Summers, Kelly Eve Koopman and Jessie Zinn engage in a thought-provoking discussion about the local film landscape and how to break in, push boundaries and explore new territories.

Saturday 10 June, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Workshop 17 17 Dock Road V&A Waterfront

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


In 2016 filmmaker Torstein Grude gave a camera to two Burundian soldiers in Somalia, with one instruction only: film whatever you think is important. The result,  Mogadishu Soldier, is a feature documentary, spliced together from 530+ hours of raw footage. Using this example of how documentary can be made as the focal point of the conversation, this session will explore the thorny issues of representation, ethics, accountability and agency.

Saturday 10 June, 3pm – 4pm
Workshop 17 17 Dock Road V&A Waterfront

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


Encounters’ guest directors Aliki Saragas, Riaan Hendricks, Davison Mudzingwa and Nomakhomazi Dewavrin will discuss their creative processes, from choosing a subject to how they found the money!

Sunday 4 June, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Workshop 17 17 Dock Road V&A Waterfront

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


This year the Black Filmmakers Forum continues to ask how to support and grow Black documentary filmmaking in South Africa. In conversation with local filmmakers who share their experiences, this edition explores the role of broadcasters and how their support or lack thereof affects us on a local and international level.

Sylvia Vollenhoven is a writer and award-winning journalist, filmmaker and TV producer. She was the first Head of the SABC’s Factual Genre when the Corporation’s Content Hub was established.

Vuyokazi Matu is the CEO of Okuhle Media, having worked her way through the company ranks from receptionist to promoter through to operations manager and human resources director. She has been involved in local film industry organisations as board member for Women in Film and Television (WIFTSA) and also on the Board of the Cape Film Commission.

Weaam Williams has directed six documentaries and her work has been broadcast in 28 countries with some of her films on the official curriculum in Southern African schools.She recently completed her first fiction screenplay with the NFVF and is in post-production for the feature length documentary, District Six – Rising from the Dust, funded by the NFVF and The Foundation for Human Rights SA.

Sunday 11 June, 1pm – 2pm
Workshop 17 17 Dock Road V&A Waterfront

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


Encounters has just received the news, as we went to print that  Last Men in Aleppo director Firas Fayyad, will attend the Festival. In partnership with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Encounters will present a public discussion with Fayyad about his personal experiences as a citizen and filmmaker in Syria and his body of work that deals directly with contemporary Syrian issues and the political transformation in the Arab world. He will provide insight into the Syrian conflict, democracy, migration and activism through cinema.

Date to be confirmed


When did you turn 21?
What happened that year?
And how did you become adult?

Swiss artist Mats Staub asked these questions of a large group of people, of all ages, and recorded their stories and had them listen to their answers three months later, while filming their facial expressions.

This became the video installation 21 – Memories of Growing Up.

The exhibition is growing from city to city and will present portraits from Switzerland, Germany, Serbia, England, Holland and South Africa.

Runs 1 – 11 June
Monday – Saturday 9am – 6pm

Homecoming Centre District 6 Museum, 15a Buitenkant St Zonnebloem Cape Town


Performance artist / filmmaker Samira Elagoz, maker of  Craigslist Allstars, Swiss video installation artist Mats Staub (see above) and his local collaborator, artist Maia Marie, will discuss how documentary and contemporary art inform and influence each other.

This session, moderated by Meghna Singh, will deconstruct how to subvert genres and blur the boundaries between art and what is real.

Saturday 3 June, 4.15pm – 5.15pm
Workshop 17 17 Dock Road V&A Waterfront

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


Laurence Bonvin, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, has exhibited her work across the world, including South Africa. Bonvin will discuss the relationship and tension between the still and the moving image in her work.

Wednesday 7 June, 12pm – 2pm
Cape Town School of Photography, 25a Buitenkant Street Cape Town


Join the DFA for a vital discussion on the history, the future, the trends, challenges and opportunities, the numbers and stats, and who gets the money, if any…

Liezel Vermeulen’s Die Burger article will inform this lively debate. +27 83 901 2000

Sunday 4 June, 10am – 11am
Workshop 17, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront


These sessions are held in partnership with Sound Africa – an independent podcast that uses digital storytelling to capture the complexity of South Africa and the continent.

Besides making podcasts, Sound Africa also hosts Radio Cinema and works with an expanding network of radio producers.

Three local podcast creators will take to the stage to explain their process and present their work. There will be a short discussion session afterwards.

Thursday 8 June, 7pm – 9pm
Labia Orange Street

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


Podcasting is exploding and attracting millions of listeners worldwide! But how can you use this medium to tell stories on a budget? In this workshop, we will look at podcasting as a low entry medium that can be a faster and cheaper alternative to filmmaking. Using examples, we will outline the equipment and skills that are needed to start your own podcast.

Sunday 11 June, 10.00am – 12.00pm
Bertha Movie House Isivivana Centre, 8 Mzala Street, Ekuphumleni, Khayelitsha, Cape Town


Vincent Moloi is one of SA’s most successful documentary filmmakers. His films have screened at premier festivals in Amsterdam, Toronto and Rotterdam. His first film, Luting (2003) was filmed in the Malutis in Lesotho. His latest,  Skulls of My People filmed in Namibia, had its World Première at IDFA. Moloi will share why he is drawn to certain subjects and what it means to be “patient, consistent and honest to your voice”.

Sunday 4 June, 10:00am – 12:00pm
Bertha Movie House, Isivivana Centre, 8 Mzala Street Ekuphumleni, Khayelitsha


What can documentary films contribute and how are they perceived? And, contrarily, what are the difficulties and needs of the documentary form? Award-winning director Heidi Specogna (Short Life of José Antonio Gutierrez,  Cahier Africain, Tupamaros) has worked extensively in Latin America and Africa. Illustrated with clips from her impressive body of work, she will expound on the relevance of documentary film today. Specogna will also consult, one-on-one, with emerging filmmakers.

Tuesday 6 June, 10am – 12pm
Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking, 109D The Foundry Cardiff St, Green Point

R50 entrance | DFA Members free |


Anticipating Fayyad’s attendance, the director of  Last Men in Aleppo will discuss the challenges of documentary filmmaking in conflict zones, using the medium of documentary as a tool for activism and the film’s current impact strategies for distribution.

Dates to be confirmed


Visiting Encounters guest director, Jan Gassmann, will conduct a master class at the University of Cape Town entitled “Working on the frontier: In between fiction and non-fiction“. There will be a screening of his documentary  Europe, She Loves before the master class from 9:00am-11:00am. Non-UCT students welcome to attend but please RSVP to Julia Cain before 1st June 2017.

Thurs, 8th June
9am – 11am Screening of Europe, She Loves
11am – 1pm Master Class
UCT TV, Baxter Theatre Complex, Cnr Burg / Main Road, Rondebosch


Al Jazeera Commissioning Editor Farid Barsoum will brief filmmakers on Al Jazeera’s vision for programming, commissioning guidelines and respond to questions from the Industry. This is followed by the 6th annual Pitching Forum wherein 12 selected filmmakers will pitch their ideas, and receive feedback on their proposals. Both sessions are open to industry, filmmakers and observers.

Note: this event has now moved to Cape Town!

Farid Barsoum has been an Executive Producer and Commissioning Editor at Al Jazeera for the past seven years. In his 30-year career in Television he worked in his native Canada and was based in Moscow for the CBC and in London for NBC. Farid was part of the team that launched AJE in 2006. He now commissions “one-off” documentaries as well as Special Series and the popular AJ Correspondent series.

Sunday 11 June Saturday 10 June
9:30am – 10am Information Session,  10am – 1pm Pitching Session
Workshop 17, 17 Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town Goethe Institut, 119 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood, Jhb

Refreshments will be served afterwards


Encounters, in partnership with The Refinery Cape Town and South African Guild of Editors is proud to present the inaugural Encounters Rough Cut Lab. Three directors, whose films are in post-production, will be invited to spend three days working on their film with an experienced editing mentor. Projects will receive expert advice on story structure and technical aspects.

5-7 June
The Refinery, Waterfront Studios, Green Point


In addition to the long-standing and successful Backsberg Encounters Audience Awards for the best South African and International documentaries, the Festival, in partnership with Ster Kinekor, introduces its first Youth Jury in 2017. Four jurors will adjudicate and present the EYE Award and cash prizes for the best South African short (less than 20 minutes).

Born in KZN, Anele Hlongwane (20) has been living in Cape Town for 15 years. Studying at UCT currently, he has a passion for all areas of filmmaking, but his goal is producing.

Yoza Mnyanda (23) is a UCT Screen Production graduate whose passions include cinematography and storytelling. She is currently a freelance videographer and editor and runs her own small production company called “Wildflower Worx”.

Taryn McCabe (21) is studying film at CPUT and is currently working on a number of film projects. She has a passion for European and Avant Garde cinema.

Lloyd Soudien (19) is from Mitchells Plain, studying web publishing and interactive media at Friends of Design.

This year the Festival will launch the Encounters Youth Experience, a comprehensive screening and workshop programme for young audiences. This initiative will serve as an introduction to the genre and to the practical craft of documentary filmmaking. Screenings and conversations will take place at the Bertha Movie House and the Labia.

Bertha Movie House Isivivana Centre, 8 Mzala Street, Ekuphumleni, Khayelitsha, Cape Town

Labia Theatre, 68 Orange St, Gardens

HE: “I find sex pretty good”
SHE: “Maybe in another life.”

Jan Gassmann’s explicit crisis film for Generation Y is a warts and all portrayal that closely follows four couples as they search for jobs and get high, living on a continent on the verge of change.

Jan Gassmann attends the festival courtesy of DOK.fest Munich

Cape Town
Bertha MH
Thu 8, 6pm + Q&A
Jan Gassmann
Germany / Switzerland
100 minutes

Indwe Q&A with Nomakhomazi Dewavrin
10am – 12pm
Own Your Voice Workshop with Vincent Moloi
Skulls of My People Q&A with Vincent Moloi
Uprize! Q&A with Sifiso Khanyile
10 – 11am
Podcasting on a Shoestring Workshop with Sound Africa

Audience Awards

A Festival Audience Award is a special accolade, appreciated by filmmakers precisely because it is given not by a jury of experts or critics but by popular vote.

Please do fill in those ballots at all Festival screenings in Johannesburg and Cape Town and help select the Best South African and Best International feature documentaries at the Festival.

The Backsberg Encounters Audience Awards for Best South African and International documentaries will be announced after the last vote is counted.

Previous Winners

2009 – Fokofpolisiekar
2010 – The 16th Man
2011 – The Imam & I
2012 – The African Cypher
2013 – The Village Under the Forest
2014 – Unearthed
2014 – Special Award – Miners Shot Down
2015 – The Shorebreak
2016 – Action Kommandante