Jozi Film Festival turns 10

The Jozi Film Festival (JFF) – aka “the little film festival that could” – is back for its 10th year from 1 to 10 October 2021, catering for those who love experiencing the magic of the cinema in person as well as those who prefer streaming quality films from the comfort of their homes.

 As Johannesburg’s longest-running multi-genre film festival, JFF has, true to its fighting indie spirit, survived the Covid-19 pandemic and is proudly returning for its 10th outing.

This year’s hybrid film festival will see selected films and documentaries being screened on site at The Bioscope Independent Cinema. It will also offer a full menu of films to stream for free via a specially created online platform, as well as an on-demand channel that you can access anytime from 1 to 10 October 2021.

This means anyone in South Africa will be able to tuck into JFF’s selection of thought-provoking and acclaimed feature films, feature-length documentaries, short fiction films and documentary shorts by established and emerging filmmakers from South Africa and around the globe – the type of film fare that is definitely not on offer in our mainstream or even our arthouse cinemas at the moment.

Explains film festival co-founder and organiser Lisa Henry, “Because of the outbreak of the global pandemic in 2020, last year’s festival went virtual for the first time and this year it will continue to offer a virtual experience where anyone in South Africa can access all the films on offer from 1 to 10 October 2021.

“As Gauteng now cautiously moves out of the third wave of Covid-19, JFF will also hold safe screenings (at 50% capacity) at The Bioscope, now located at 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark, from 1 to 3 October 2021. The Bioscope remains the JFF’s spiritual home; both Joburg institutions are 100% independent and committed to providing a platform for filmmakers that the traditional cinemas can’t.”

 The opening-night film at The Bioscope on Friday 1 October 2021 is the documentary Displaced (also live-streamed on Tuesday 4 October 2021). It’s a moving and haunting retrospective of the work of local artist Emma Willemse, directed by Victor van Aswegen. Rooted in her personal experience of displacement, Willemse’s work resonates in South Africa, with its history of forced removals, and around the world. The film has garnered a number of awards and accolades in the United States and Europe, and JFF is proud to be hosting the world cinema premiere (previous screenings have been virtual).

Complementing the physical screenings is JFF’s two-pronged virtual offering. For just R49,99, audiences can purchase an all-access pass to access 60 excellent films on demand, at any time, between 1 and 10 October 2021.

The second part of the virtual offering is “10 Days, 10 Films”, a new, free, live and interactive addition to this year’s festival to commemorate its 10th anniversary. From 1 to 10 October 2021, at 8pm each night, the JFF will host a screening of a film or short film, followed by a question-and-answer session. These screenings and Q&As are free to watch online.

One of the highlights of this free offering is Murder in Paris, about the assassination of anti-apartheid activist Dulcie September, to be streamed live at 8pm on Wednesday 6 October 2021. JFF will partner with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to bring audiences the South African premiere of the new international cut of Enver Samuel’s award-winning documentary film, which is not to be missed.

JFF has enjoyed a colourful history. With a start-up budget of R5 000, the festival had humble beginnings, but it has grown in size and stature over its 10-year history, with screenings in various venues (from grand stately homes and township theatres to ramshackle makeshift cinemas), and featuring lively workshops, lectures and Q&A sessions. But always the festival has remained defiantly independent in spirit and unwavering in its commitment to showcase important cinematic fare from within our borders and beyond – regardless of whether the screenings take place physically or virtually.

South African film lovers are spoiled for choice, with three ways to access the Jozi Film Festival this year:


Visit, or follow Jozi Film Festival on Facebook and Instagram, for updates and news – and see you at the movies!


10 Days, 10 Films – live screenings and Q&As with filmmakers


  • Mutant. Friday 1 October 2021 at 8pm SAST. Mutant is a documentary film that paints an intimate portrait of one of South Africa’s most outspoken and controversial artists. Free registration here.
  • Binti (Tanzania). Saturday 2 October at 8pm SAST. A meditation on contemporary African womanhood, unfolding in four chapters. Free registration here.
  • From Durban to Tomorrow. Sunday 3 October 2021 at 8pm SAST. From Durban to Tomorrow recalls the mass protests in Durban led by people living with HIV. Free registration here.
  • Displaced (South African viewers only). Monday 4 October 2021 at 8pm SAST. Artist Emma Willemse explores the nature of the traumatic experience of the loss of a home. Free registration here.
  • Stolen Fish. Tuesday 5 October 2021 at 8pm SAST. This film focuses on The Gambia’s fishmeal factories, offering a unique insight into untold drivers of migration and the role played by women. Free registration here.
  • Murder in Paris. Wednesday 6 October 2021 at 8pm SAST. Murder in Paris is a political crime-thriller doccie that traces the motives for the assassination of anti-apartheid activist Dulcie September. Free registration here.
  • Mzansi in the Time of Covid-19 (South African viewers only). Thursday 7 October 2021 at 8pm SAST. Three South African short documentary films; three women directors. Free registration here.
  • High Maintenance (South African viewers only). Friday 8 October 2021 at 8pm SAST. Dani Karavan has created nearly 100 environmental installations all across the world … yet he is far from satisfied. Free registration here.
  • Run George. Saturday 9 October 2021 at 8pm SAST. Run George is the story of a young man named George who is in dire straits and is about to reach boiling point. Free registration here.
  • I Am Here (South African viewers only). Sunday 10 October at 8pm SAST. Follow this spirited South African Holocaust survivor as she reveals her astonishing life journey and unwavering appreciation of life. Free registration here.