21st Encounters South African International Documentary Festival

The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival has announced the first international documentaries confirmed for this year’s edition.

The line-up has been chosen from the past year’s most riveting documentary cinema selected from the world’s leading festivals, with subjects ranging from the state-sanctioned amnesia towards the crimes of the Franco regime; a young woman who has become a symbol of hope for her people; identical triplets separated at birth; as well as empathetic and insightful films featuring people from Mikhail Gorbachev and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Miles Davis, with more to come in the next month.

Films already confirmed include:

MEETING GORBACHEV: Werner Herzog teams up as director with André Singer, (producer of The Act of Killing) for this riveting documentary, filled with unforgettable archive materials and based on three long interviews which provide incredible access to Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of the U.S.S.R..

THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS: Three strangers are reunited by astonishing coincidence after being born identical triplets, separated at birth, and adopted by three different families. Their jaw-dropping, feel-good story instantly becomes a global sensation complete with fame and celebrity, however, the fairy-tale reunion sets in motion a series of events that unearth an unimaginable secret with radical repercussions. Filmmaker Tim Wardle won the 2019 Director’s Guild Award for this gripping, stranger-than-fiction account that plays like a thriller.

ON HER SHOULDERS: An award-winner at numerous festivals – including Canada’s Hot Docs and Best Documentary director at 2018’s Sundance – Alexandria Bombach’s film follows Nadia Murad, who survived the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq and escaped the hands of ISIS to become a relentless beacon of hope for her people, eventually being appointed a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity for Survivors of Human Trafficking. The film stops short of her sharing the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018, but it’s a moving and essential portrait of the strength required to speak out for humanity.

RBG: At the age of 84, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a breath-taking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. But without a definitive Ginsburg biography, the unique personal journey of this diminutive, quiet warrior’s rise to the nation’s highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans – until now.

THE SILENCE OF OTHERS: After the death of General Franco in 1975, some people hoped that those guilty of crimes against humanity would be brought to justice. However, the 1977 Amnesty Law, nicknamed “The Pact of Forgetting”, prevented that. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sheffield Documentary Film festival and Audience Award in Berlin, this stylish, cinematic film from Emmy-winning Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, follows the efforts of a few ageing survivors as they try to repeal the controversial Amnesty Law and bring former perpetrators to justice. Executive produced by Pedro Almodóvar this stirring documentary unfolds with all the force of a classic political thriller.

MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL: A visionary, innovator, and originator who defied categorisation and embodied the word cool: this foray into the life and career of musical and cultural icon Miles Davis is definitive. While previous books and films made Miles Davis look like a magical character, Stanley Nelson’s film depicts the musician as what he was – a man who was driven by his art and chained by the racist society he was born into. Birth of the Cool which shares a title with a Davis album from 1957, explores the intricacies of his career in great detail and it’s a tantalising portrait: rich, probing, mournful, romantic, triumphant, tragic, exhilarating, and blisteringly honest.

More titles will be announced soon, this years Encounters runs from 6 to 16 June in  Johannesburg and Cape Town.