Encounters Announces Opening Night Film and More of 2019’s Most Acclaimed Documentaries

“Buddha In Africa” by South African director Nicole Schafer receives its joint South African premiere at Encounters and the 40th Durban International Film Festival. It is the opening night film at Encounters, taking place starting today in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The local premiere comes just weeks after the film’s world premiere in competition at Hot Docs, Toronto’s holy grail of documentary film festivals.This delicately observed documentary is about a Malawian teenager in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Africa, who finds himself torn between his African roots and Chinese upbringing. The film focuses on Enock, a young teenager caught between his traditional culture, his dreams of becoming a martial arts hero like Jet Li and the strict discipline of Confucianism. Set against the backdrop of China’s growing influence on the African continent this essential film poses complex questions about race, imperialism, faith and culture and offers a subtle exploration of the impact of soft cultural power on the identity and interior life of a young boy and his community. 

“It’s also about Africa’s relations with other foreign nations, including the former colonisers. It’s this idea that the key to the future of the continent’s development is always held by outsiders, and that in order to succeed, we have to adapt to foreign value systems and policies. I think Enock’s story challenges this idea in very refreshing ways.” says Nicole Schafer.

This year, once again Encounters is proud to co-present several South African and international documentaries in association with DIFF. It’s a partnership has enabled filmmakers to premiere their films at both Festivals for the last 14 years.

Also in the bumper line-up for this years feast of non-fiction film are “Beyond the Frontlines: Resistance and Resilience in Palestine” a significant and powerful film from French author and feminist Alexandra Dols, German documentarian Karin Jurschick’s “Playing God” which follows the struggle of the charismatic and controversial US attorney who, since 9/11, has been charged with the impossible task of assigning a dollar value to life when compensating victims of America’s most tragic events.

There is also Lesotho breakthrough filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s beautifully poetic “Mother, I Am Suffocating, This Is My Last Film About You”, Jacqueline Gozland’s moving tribute to the heydays of the Algerian cinematheque “My Story Is Not Written Yet” and the premiere of progressive Soweto-born filmmaker Fanney Tsimong’s “My Culture My Music”.

From 6th to 16th June Cape Town and Johannesburg audiences will have the privilege to see this year’s top-rated documentaries, each of them breaking new ground in non-fiction film making.


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