Encounters SA 2019: International Documentaries Line-Up

The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, which will be taking place from 6 – 16 June 2019, has announced the first set of international documentaries.

The international line-up was chosen from a selection of some of the past year’s most riveting documentary cinema that was showcased at leading festivals around the world.

New must-sees will join the list before the festival begins in June but here are some of the international documentaries you can expect to see so far.

Meeting Gorbachev

Werner Herzog teams up with André Singer for this riveting documentary, filled with unforgettable archive materials and based on three long interviews, which provides incredible access to Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of the U.S.S.R. and charts his achievements.

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 out 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, a survivor of the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq. Murad escaped the hands of ISIS to become a relentless beacon of hope for her people. 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.


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 stylishly 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 a man who was driven by his art and chained by the racist society he was born into. ‘Birth of the Cool’ shares a title with a Davis album from 1957, and explores the intricacies of his career in great detail. It’s a tantalizing portrait: rich, probing, mournful, romantic, triumphant, tragic, exhilarating, and blisteringly honest.

This year’s Encounters festival will be running in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

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