ENCOUNTERS 2003 >> Films >> International

4 Little Girls

USA 1997 video 102min
Dir: Spike Lee
Producer / Editor: Sam Pollard

On 15 September 1963 a bomb was tossed into the basement of an Alabama church which had become a focal point for the US civil rights movement, killing four little girls. This is silver-screen legend Spike Lee's meticulously researched and movingly executed homage to the murdered children and surviving family and friends. Interviews with civil rights leaders and their foes, illustrated by dramatic archive footage of mass action met with brutal police crackdowns, paint a vivid portrait of the climate of hatred and intolerance widespread in sixties America, especially in the south. Disturbing yet strangely uplifting, the film offers a unique glimpse into a community coming to terms with this tragedy in a society still battling the bigotry which caused it. Courtesy of Spike Lee and HBO

CT: Tue 29 / 8.30pm • Sun 3 / 4pm
JHB: Mon 4 / 7.30pm • Thu 7 / 8pm

Sam Pollard is a guest of the Festival courtesy of the Binger, Sundance Institute, SABC1 and the NFVF.

And Along Came a Spider
Iran 2002 video 52min
Dir: Maziar Bahari

Saeed Hanaei murdered sixteen prostitutes in the belief he was ridding Iran of 'corrupt elements'. The press dubbed them 'spider killings' because of Hanaei's habit of luring his victims to his home, and the film looks behind the headlines to reveal a twisted mind forged in a society torn between reformists and religious fanatics. The former seek to steer the country into the 21st century along progressive lines, the latter regard Hanaei's actions a fitting antidote to the modern ideas they believe bred the social ills poisoning the Islamic revolution. Exclusive death row interviews with Hanaei and with his family and friends paint a chilling portrait of a serial killer and the world which made him.

Courtesy of the Director

Screens with Naked and Wind
CT: Sat 26 / 10pm • Wed 30 / 6.15pm
JHB: Sat 2 / 9.15pm

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Autopsy of an Erotic Film
Canada 2000 video 52min
Dir: Sylvie Peltier

A woman whose marriage is on the rocks knocks out a script for an erotic B movie and sells it to Tinseltown, only to see it flop. Six years later she returns to the scene of her Hollywood misadventure to dissect what went wrong. So begins an often painful journey of self-discovery which offers an instructive glimpse into the industry's ambivalence toward the female body: nudity is used to sell movies, but actresses who bare it all are stigmatised afterwards. A staged cast reunion, as well as interviews with producers, industry executives and erotic actresses, flesh out her wry and revealing analysis of a genre that satisfies an appetite for cheap voyeuristic thrills while pretending to celebrate sexuality.

Courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada

Screens with My Body
CT: Sat 26 / 5.45pm • Fri 1 / 7.45pm

Russia 1992 video 58min
Dir: Victor Kossakovsky

Occasionally a film comes along which, simply by holding up a mirror to the smallest segment of human activity, manages to illuminate the entire spectrum of the soul. Two siblings living on a smallholding in post-glastnost Russia squander their days digging up potatoes, chopping firewood or repairing a fence their cow keeps trampling. When their brothers pay a visit they sit up late drinking tea and vodka. The film's genius lies in offering a faithful record - verging on post_modern at times by inviting a kind of dialogue between subject and viewer - of the attrition of daily drudgery while revealing the fierce longings and homicidal frustrations of people relegated to the dustbin of history: it is the metaphysical anguish of insects trapped in amber.

Courtesy of the Director

Screens with Vacation in November
CT: Sat 26 / 7.45pm • Thu 31 / 6.15pm • Sat 2 / 6pm
JHB: Tue 5 / 7.30pm • Sat 9 / 8pm

UK 2002 35mm 83min
Dir: Simon Pummell

A sumptuous visual essay celebrating archetypal forces of creation and destruction in a stunning display culled from a century of cinematic record from around the globe, and set to a moving soundtrack composed by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. Bodysong begins by exploring the individual's traumatic eruption into the world, followed by the first shaky steps taken by a toddler filled with wonder at the miracle of existence. Later the lens widens to capture multiple social realities. Rock concerts, initiation rites, banquets and food riots all form part of this great dance that unites and divides us. Moments of tenderness or joy are juxtaposed with brutal pornographic images dissolving into scenes of mob violence, the carnage of war, genocide, ultimate destruction and beyond.

A rollercoaster ride of the senses.

CT: Sat 26 / 9.30pm • Mon 28 / 6pm • Wed 30 / 8pm
JHB: Sat 2 / 7.15pm • Wed 6 / 6.15pm

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The Netherlands 2001 video 100min
Dir: Lisanne Faddegon

For 33 South African nurses fresh from college, this was meant to be the chance of a lifetime: a two-year contract in the Netherlands to learn valuable skills, the opportunity to live in Europe, and employment guaranteed upon their return. For many, however, it all went horribly wrong. The film follows their fortunes, from arrival in Amsterdam full of high expectations to disgruntlement at contract discrepancies and being put up in slum project housing. Squabbles with colleagues and officials eventually culminate in a bitter court battle, and almost all return home early. Buitenkans raises interesting questions about European prejudices, the quality of healthcare in South Africa, and the advisability of recruiting nurses from developing countries who can ill afford to lose them.

Courtesy of IdtV-DITS

CT: Wed 23 / 6pm • Tue 29 / 6.15pm
JHB: Sun 10 / 5.30pm

Chavez: Inside the Coup
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Ireland 2002 video 74min
Dirs: Kim Bartley & Donnacha O'Briain

Bartley & O'Briain went to Venezuela expecting to make an intimate profile of Hugo Chavez, the maverick president who's become a new icon of the left. They got more than they bargained for. Chavez's attempts to redistribute his country's vast oil wealth inevitably made him many enemies whose smear campaigns, orchestrated through private TV channels, culminated in last year's coup. With the luck of the Irish, the filmmakers found themselves inside the presidential palace as soldiers carted Chavez off to a secret destination - only to return him 48 hours later amid widespread street protests. A thrilling look behind-the-scenes at a failed coup and a dramatic illustration of the mass media's power to distort reality and manipulate public opinion.

Courtesy of Power Pictures 2002 Ltd
Global Television Grand Prize, BANFF Rockie Awards 2003

CT: Sun 20 / 8pm INVITATION ONLY • Mon 28 / 8pm • Sun 3 / 7.30pm
JHB: Fri 1 / 7.45pm • Wed 6 / 8pm

Spain / USA 2002 35mm 96min
Dir: Oliver Stone

For his latest controversial foray into history Oliver Stone gained unprecedented access to Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Edited from 30 hours of conversation with El Comandante himself, and illustrated by an impressive selection of archive footage, the film traces the trajectory of the Cuban revolution and the nation it shaped. Although Castro lapses into well-rehearsed stock responses when the film addresses questions such as political repression and persecution of homosexuals, American critics may find his obvious popularity with ordinary Cubans hard to swallow. But it's the human side of Castro, so rarely revealed - his shaving habits, liaisons with women and views on Viagra - that makes this such a fascinating portrait of a man who, love him or hate him, has become one of the icons of our age.

Courtesy of Mediapro

CT: Fri 25 / 8pm • Sun 27 / 7.15pm • Wed 30 / 6pm
JHB: Sat 2 / 5.30pm • Sat 9 / 7.15pm

Death by Myth
USA / Namibia 2002 video 84min
Dir: John Marshall

An uncompromising exposé of how aid and wildlife agencies have bought, and exploit, the myth of the Kalahari san as happy children of nature, content to collect berries and track game as their forebears have done for millennia. Marshall documents repeated efforts by the Ju/'hoansi in north-eastern Namibia to convince donor and government representatives that their only hope of survival today lies in growing food and keeping cattle. Persuaded by others that they will reap enormous financial rewards from trophy hunters, tourists and film crews, the community agrees to establish a nature conservancy. Instead, the Ju/'hoansi receive a pittance while their preferred livelihood of farming is destroyed. Committed documentary making of the highest order.

Courtesy of Documentary Educational Resources

CT: Fri 25 / 6pm • Sat 2 / 4pm
JHB: Sat 2 / 5.15pm

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Israel 2001 video 73min
Dir: Anat Evan & Ada Ushpiz

An intimate look at the daily lives of three widows who live in the heart of Hebron, in a building which straddles two worlds: the front controlled by Israel, the back by the Palestinian Authority. In a world where Israeli soldiers, curfews and street fighting are the only certainties, they reflect on the pros and cons of life without a husband, the difficulties of raising children, and unfair treatment of widows by a conservative Muslim community. Occasionally the ennui of their enforced idleness is broken by a Jewish religious procession secured at gunpoint. But this only amplifies their implacable hatred of the people who hold them prisoner in their own homes or turn them into refugees in their own country. Moving, powerful and uncompromising.

Courtesy of Ruth Diskin

Jerusalem Int'nl FF 2001 - Wolgin Award Competition - Honourable Mention
Leipzig Int'nl FF 2001 - Golden Dove

CT: Sun 27 / 7.45pm • Sun 3 / 6.15pm

The Education of Gore Vidal
USA 2002 video 90min
Dir: Deborah Dickson

Few authors have been as steeped in the culture of America's ruling elite as Gore Vidal. His grandfather was a senator, his father Roosevelt's aviation secretary and he himself ran for Congress in 1960. This lends unique authority to his elegant disgust with what he calls Ôa sanctimonious society of hustlers' - or more recently, Ôthe largest rogue state of all'. Framed by a recent US book tour, the film traces the evolution of Vidal's nightmare vision of a country whose elected assembly has been hijacked by an imperial military machine and the corporations it serves. His ascorbic wit makes it all hugely entertaining, and the clips of public spats with Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley are priceless.

Courtesy of the Director and Films Transit International Inc.

CT: Fri 25 / 6pm • Fri 1 / 6pm
JHB: Mon 4 / 6pm • Sat 9 / 5.15pm

From Dachau with Love
Germany 2003 video 77min
Dir: Bernd Fischer

Bernd Fischer's stylishly shot, bittersweet introduction to his home town Dachau explores the conflicting emotions Nazi atrocities still evoke among Germans. The result is tragicomedy rather than Sturm und Drang: officials downplay the concentration camp memorial as tourist attraction, preferring to focus on enticements like a pumpkin carving competition or the annual turnip week; the Bavarian riot police in the old SS barracks are at pains to demonstrate their respect for local fauna; and a musician dates his love of blues to hearing black camp prisoners sing. Interviews with camp survivors, camp neighbours and a nun completes the picture. A quirky take on holocaust guilt, which also confronts the serious implications of a people trying to erase an uncomfortable past.

Courtesy of Deckert Distribution

CT: Sun 27 / 5.30pm • Wed 30 / 8pm • Sun 3 / 4.15pm
JHB: Mon 4 / 8pm • Sun 10 / 8pm

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Grey Gardens
USA 1976 35mm 94min
Dirs: Albert & David Maysles

This recently re-released vérité classic has lost none of its power to engross and infuriate. Shot over five weeks in a decaying mansion called Grey Gardens, it catalogues in excruciating detail the world - both inner and outer - inhabited by Edie and her mother, Jacqueline Onassis' aunt Edith Bouvier Beale. Edie gave up the life of a New York socialite to look after her aging mother, herself a stunning beauty in her youth and a first-rate soprano. Resembling a Tennessee Williams play, the film is a painfully naked, often outrageously funny account of the stormy relationship between two eccentrics trapped in a web of co-dependence - and a moving evocation of lives once rich in music, laughter and love.

Courtesy of Maysles Films Inc.

CT: Fri 25 / 8pm • Fri 1 / 9.15pm
JHB: Tue 5 / 6.15pm • Sat 9 / 6pm

Australia 1998 video 75min
Dir: Curtis Levy

The conflicting passions of Hephzibah Menuhin's remarkable life are laid bare in this insightful portrayal of an unacknowledged musical genius. Hephzibah toured the world giving concerts with her celebrated brother Yehudi before marrying an Australian sheep farmer at 18. Her eloquent letters, illustrated by home and archive footage, and interviews with family members, narrate her progress from a young bride, bursting with received notions of love, to an ardent feminist whose crusade for social justice drives her to London and into the arms of a Viennese sociologist. In the end it is a tragic triumph. Hephzibah's health buckles under the weight of insupportable ideals just as her musical ability reaches its apogee. A poignant and profound portrait of a musical prodigy sacrificed on the wrong altar.

Courtesy of the Director

Australian Film Institute - Best Documentary Film 1998
Film Critics Circle of Australia - Best Documentary Film 1998

CT: Thu 24 / 6pm • Sat 2 / 4.15pm
JHB: Sun 3 / 4pm

I was the King of Porn
Germany 2002 video 59min
Dir: Thorsten Schütte

Lasse Braun was once Europe's most famous pornographer. His elegant and imaginative Super 8 flesh flicks earned him cult status in the wake of the sexual revolution, and when he set up a commune with his actors in The Netherlands he became a self-styled sex guru, touting porn as a weapon in the fight for personal and political freedom. But Braun's attempts to conquer the US market ended in failure. Today he lives in Los Angeles, turning out low-grade adult entertainment videos while peddling his views on tacky sex shows. Behind the scenes footage, interviews with former acolytes and clips from his own films tell the remarkable story of this flamboyant and controversial iconoclast's fall from grace.

Courtesy of Ulli Pfau Film Production

CT: Tue 22 / 7.45pm • Sun 3 / 6pm
JHB: Sat 2 / 9.15pm • Wed 6 / 6pm

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In My Father's House
The Netherlands 1997 video 55min
Dir: Fatima Jebli Ouazzani

In Moroccan society, youth, virginity and submission are highly prized commodities. The price Ouazzani pays for rejecting these values is to be cast out of her father's house for sixteen years. This is the story of Ouazzani's stormy relationship with her father, her mother's marriage and suicide, her grandparents' unhappy union, and the joyful preparations for a traditional Moroccan wedding. In the end Ouazzani is only able to confront her father in peace, by reconciling herself with her past. But her painful journey of self-discovery reveals the dreadful toll that conforming to the demands of an unbending patriarchal order takes on many Moroccan women, and exposes the widespread hypocrisy in a society determined to save face at all costs.

Courtesy of MM Film Produksies

CT: Mon 28 / 8pm • Thu 31 / 6pmm
JHB: Sun 3 / 8.30pm

Journeys with George
USA 2002 video 76min
Dir: Alexandra Pelosi

When NBC news assigned Alexandra Pelosi to cover Texas governor George W. Bush's presidential campaign, she decided to take her video camera along. Together with a pack of fellow journalists, she is led from one phoney photo op to another, in chartered planes and buses, to feed the media machine's insatiable appetite for US election trivia. Pelosi's handicam footage reveals a totally different reality from that we saw on CNN, and explodes the myth of Bush as a bumbling rancher who blundered his way into office. Instead, he emerges as an astute politician highly adept at manipulating the media and managing public opinion. An eerie, intimate portrait of the man who crowned himself emperor of the free world.

Courtesy of the Director

CT: Mon 21 / 6pm • Sat 26 / 8pm • Thu 31 / 6pm • Sat 2 / 7.30pm
JHB: Sat 2 / 7.30pm • Wed 6 / 7.30pm • Sat 9 / 9.15pm • Sun 10 / 7.45pm

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The Last Just Man
Canada 2001 video 70min
Dir: Steven Silver

The massacre of 800 000 Rwandans in just 100 days was the worst instance of genocide since World War 2. Yet the world stood by and did nothing. This shameful episode is narrated through the eyes of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, head of a UN mission sent to enforce a peace deal between the Tutsi rebel movement and Hutu government. Dallaire's frantic efforts to persuade the UN of impending disaster fall on deaf ears: first he is told not to intervene, then ordered out of the country. Dallaire goes it alone, but by then it is already too late. A devastating account of the failure of one man's heroism, and a wake-up call the world has yet to heed.

Courtesy of Barna-Alper Productions Inc.

Hotdocs 2002 - Humanitarian Award and Audience Favourite
Gemini 2002 - Winner: Best Direction, Best Writing and Best History Documentary

CT: Sun 27 / 4pm • Sun 3 / 7.15pm

Motherland: a Genetic Journey
UK 2003 video 89min
Dir: Archie Baron

Three black Britons taking part in a groundbreaking genetic study into the ancestry of UK's African Caribbean community embark on an epic journey to the Motherland. Beaula is a youth worker from Bristol who traces her ancestry to a tiny island off Equatorial Guinea. She becomes an instant local celebrity when her reunion with living relatives is televised. Mark is a music industry PR in London. He travels to Niger to meet the Kanuri people and reclaim a Kanuri name. Jacqueline explores her roots in Jamaica and confirms her suspicions that much of her ancestry is European. This fascinating and informative film tells their moving stories, which form part of a larger analysis on hundreds of volunteers that will reveal the genetic impact of the transatlantic slave trade.

Courtesy of Archie Baron, who is a guest of the Festival courtesy of the British Council.

One World Media Award - Best TV Documentary 2003

CT: Thu 24 / 7.30pm • Mon 28 / 7.45pm
JHB: Sun 3 / 5.30pm

My Body
Norway 2002 video 26min
Dir: Margreth Olin

My Body invites you on an interactive adventure of awareness which reveals how a society, obsessed with the physical attributes of women, breeds fears and anxieties that can cause crippling ailments. A funny and moving visual diary of one woman's road to recovery, and an eloquent testimony to men and the healing powers of the mind.

Courtesy of Norwegian Film Institute

Norwegian Short FF 2002 Grand Prix (Gullstolen) - Best Norwegian Short Film & Audience Award
Lilla Filmfestivalen 2002, Sweden - Audience Award
IDFA 2002 - Special Mention, Silver Wolf Competition

Screens with Autopsy of an Erotic Film
CT: Sat 26 / 5.45pm • Fri 1 / 7.45pm

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My Flesh and Blood
USA 2003 video 84min
Dir: Jonathan Karsh

Raising one disabled child is too onerous a burden for many parents, which must make Susan Tom something of a Mother Theresa. This Californian single mum cares for no fewer than nine special-needs children she fosters. They include two legless girls who like bouncing on a trampoline and flirting with the boys at school; another, horribly disfigured from burns as a baby, who dreams she'll grow up to look Ônormal'; a hyperactive bully kept at bay with Ritalin; and the retarded teen he sexually abuses. A sensitively handled and at times lyrical portrayal of the daily travails and triumphs of the Toms which, although celebrating Susan's relentless love, does raise some disturbing questions about the motives of sacrifice.

Courtesy of Films Transit Int'nl Inc.

Sundance 2003 - Best Direction & Audience Award

CT: Sat 26 / 6pm • Fri 1 / 8pm
JHB: Sun 3 / 4pm • Thu 7 / 6pm

My One Legged Dream Lover
Australia 1998 video 52min
Dirs: Penny Fowler-Smith & Christine Olsen

Kath Duncan was born with one arm and one leg. Which doesn't mean she lacks the sexual and emotional needs everyone else has. While trawling the internet she stumbles on the existence of a curious breed who call themselves devotees - people, mostly men, who are turned on by stumps. The film follows Kath on an uplifting but often painful odyssey from Australia to the US to meet the men she encountered in cyberspace, and attend the world's largest amputee symposium in Chicago, which happens to coincide with a devotee meeting. A brutally frank, deliciously irreverent peep into the netherworld of devotees and their objects of desire, and a quirky celebration of a love that knows no limits.

Courtesy of the Directors

CT: Sun 27 / 6pm • Fri 1 / 10pm
JHB: Fri 8 / 9.15pm

My Terrorist
Israel 2002 video 58min
Dir: Yulie Cohen Gerstel

Yulie Cohen Gerstel was once a staunch Israeli nationalist. She grew up in Ariel Sharon's neighbourhood, served as an Israeli army officer and was shot by a PLO terrorist. Two decades later Gerstel is a disillusioned patriot who blames her government for fuelling Palestinian hatred with brutal reprisals in response to suicide attacks. Determined to break this vicious cycle of violence, she embarks on and scrupulously records her bumpy journey of reconciliation with the man who wanted to kill her, even going as far as lobbying for his release from prison. Courageous, provocative and brutally honest, this film is both a deeply personal account of one woman's triumph over fear and hatred, and a passionate plea for peace.

Courtesy of the Director

Jerusalem Film Festival 2002 - Special Jury Prize

CT: Tue 22 / 6.15pm • Thu 31 / 8pm
JHB: Sat 2 / 4pm • Thu 7 / 8.15pm

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Naked and Wind
Sweden / Iran 2002 video 35min Dir: Nima Sarvestani

An intriguing glimpse of a community of Iranian heroin addicts living in a cemetery. Outcasts from society, these men and women have found a place where they can ride their ecstatic dreams while huddling in underground tombs and sunken graves, or lying supine on sun-baked slabs. Some are resigned to an imminent death, even seeking to hasten it, while others are obsessed with becoming clean. One man plans to finance a stint in rehab by selling a kidney. But this is Iran, a country where a woman can be stoned to death for prostituting herself (for her husband's habit), and a cloud of persecution hangs over everything. A haunting vision of the living dead who inhabit the fringes of a repressive society.

Courtesy of the Director

Swedish Film Institute - Documentary FF Prize 2002
Mikrokino FF 2003 - Best Documentary

Screens with And Along came a Spider
CT: Sat 26 / 10pm • Wed 30 / 6.15pm
JHB: Sat 2 / 9.15pm

News From a Personal War
Brazil 1999 video 57min
Dir: Katia Lund

A gritty, hard-hitting account of the war between Brazil's drug runners and police which exposes the explosive forces underlying this deeply divided society. The film takes viewers into the homes and minds of Rio's favela dwellers - from ordinary housewives to hardened killers - where children are turned into gun-toting thugs. Armed to the teeth with some of the most sophisticated weaponry in the world, drug dealers engage in pitched battles with brutal, corrupt policemen, whose military style training has made them into ruthless urban combat machines. Interviews with the city's police chief reveal their true purpose: they are the shock troops in a war designed to crush resistance to a cruel and unjust system. Disturbing and thought provoking film from the directors of City of God, soon to be released by Ster Kinekor Pictures.

Courtesy of Videofilmes Producoes Artisticas Ltda

CT: Mon 28 / 6.30pm • Sat 2 / 8.15pm
JHB: Fri 1 / 9.15pm

Our Friend Saddam
France 2003 video 52min
Dir: Antonia Rados

A gripping investigation into the role of Western democracies in arming the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, with weapons of mass destruction. Based on previously unseen archive material and exclusive interviews with French and Iraqi leaders, US senators and Iraqi nuclear scientists, the film exposes how politicians lied to their electorates to secure lucrative military contracts with a regime known to be massacring civilians. The Islamic Revolution in Iran intensified the race to sell Hussein the most sophisticated instruments of mass slaughter on the market. These included virus strains and guided missiles from the US, and the means to make toxic gas and nuclear weapons courtesy of France and Germany. A chilling illustration of the complex web of collusion that underpins the international arms industry.

Courtesy of Point du Jour International

CT: Wed 23 / 6.15pm • Thu 31 / 8.15pm • Sun 3 / 4.30pm
JHB: Sun 3 / 8pm • Fri 8 / 6.15pm

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Sacrificio: Who Betrayed Che Guevara?
Sweden 2002 video 58min
Dirs: Erik Gandini & Tarik Saleh

In 1967 Che Guevara was captured in the Bolivian jungle and shot dead. Ever since, history books have held his former lieutenant Ciro Bustos responsible. Now, for the first time, Bustos tells his side of the story. In a relentless effort to get to the truth behind the myth, Gandini and Saleh track down key figures present at Guevara's death, including an ex-CIA agent, Bolivian army officers and former comrades. Their search exposes how shoddy and partial research by historians has turned one man into a convenient scapegoat for a world that demands the simple certainties of martyr or traitor. Imaginatively executed, with the pace and drama of a spy thriller, this is an investigative documentary par excellence.

Courtesy of ATMO

International Documentary Film Festivals 2001, Brazil and Portugal - First Prize
Festival Internacional de La Havana 2001 - best Non-Latin American Documentary

CT: Mon 21 / 8pm • Tue 29 / 8pm • Sat 2 / 6pm
JHB: Tue 5 / 6pm • Fri 8 / 7.45pm

The Search for Sandra Laing

UK 1977 video 52min
Dir: Antony Thomas

Antony Thomas made films for the apartheid government's Department of Information before emigrating to England in disgust at the policies he was helping to uphold. He had to sneak back to make this film, which was banned immediately upon its release. It tells the tale of Sondra Laing who, by a strange genetic throwback, was born black to white Afrikaaner parents. Sondra grows up taunted and teased, is expelled from school and later elopes with a Zulu who worked in her parents' shop. So begins a lifelong search for identity in a system where every aspect of her life is demarcated by the colour of her skin. Heartbreaking yet uplifting, this remarkable story is being planned as the feature film Skin, produced by Miramax.

Courtesy of Carlton Television UK.

CT: Tue 29 / 6.30pm • Sun 3 / 8pm
JHB: Sun 10 / 4pm

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Seeing is Believing
Canada 2002 video 59min
Dirs: Peter Wintonick & Katerina Cizek

The story of how handicams have evolved from a form of home entertainment into a powerful political weapon - becoming the eyes of the world when no one else is watching. From amateur footage of police beating Rodney King to Philippine villagers recording brutal suppression at the hands of sugar cane companies, handicams have been used to bring human rights abuses to public notice. Although focusing on their use as a tool for social justice, the film does not shy away from some of the more sinister consequences of their dramatic proliferation, such as snuff movies, right-wing hate groups spreading vicious propaganda and religious fundamentalists making recruitment videos for suicide bombers. A thought-provoking account of the uses and abuses of digital technology.

Courtesy of Necessary Illusions Productions Inc.

Yorkton 2002 - Abraham Prize

Peter Wintonick is a guest of the Festival.

CT: Wed 23 / 7.45pm • Tue 29 / 8pm
JHB: Sun 3 / 6pm

Zimbabwe 2002 video 54min
Dir: Nathan Dodzo

Oliver Mtukudzi's remarkable musical career comes to life in this joyous celebration of the power of song to transform people's lives. Structured around 12 tunes chosen by Mtukudzi himself, from his first recording Dzanzimomotera back in 1976 to his current hit Shanda, the film offers an intimate glimpse into the life of a man whose music reflected and inspired his nation's struggle for freedom. What emerges, too, is Mtukudzi's passion for fusing rural roots with fresh sounds and modern styles, as well his irrepressible optimism expressed through his music for a country once again facing an uncertain future. Live recordings of songs filmed in Mtukudzi's home township, Highvelds, and the Sports Diner in Harare make for plenty of great get up and dance footage.

Courtesy of Clickboogie

CT: Sat 26 / 6.15pm

Sweden 2002 video 52min
Dir: Erik Gandini

An innovative visual spectacle which offers an intelligent analysis of the ravages of consumerism and the people violently opposed to it. The film focuses on anti-globalisation guru John Zerzan, whose call for a giant dismantling project, of everything that separates us from nature and puts people on the treadmill of constant work and consumption, has inspired many to take to the streets. A creative montage of consumer madness and soundbites by corporate captains, dissembling politicians, Wall Street barons and Microsoft morons, juxtaposed with sound-image portraits of third world poverty and slave labour, eloquently illustrate how 20% of the world is gobbling up 80% of its resources. A compelling case for ditching the empty pursuit of material well being for a simple and fulfilling life.

Courtesy of the Swedish Film Institute

CT: Fri 25 / 10pm • Sat 2 / 8pm
JHB: Sat 9 / 9.45pm

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Vacations in November
Russia 2002 35mm 20min
Dir: Pavel Medvedev

Earning a pittance for gruelling and dangerous work, and often unpaid for months, the miners of Inta, in northern Russia, are forced to supplement their income with a bit of holiday moonlighting: every November they join gangs of seasonal workers who slaughter and skin reindeer herds on the snow covered plains. For many, this gruesome occupation done with some reluctance, is more than just a money-spinner and source of extra meat; it has become a catharsis for men who spend most of their lives underground. A stark and haunting vision of the grim lot of Russian miners sacrificed on the altar of free market reforms.

Courtesy of St Petersburg Documentary Film Studio.

Studio Director Viacheslav Telnov is a guest of the Festival.

Screens with Belovy
CT: Sat 26 / 7.45pm • Thu 31 / 6.15pm • Sat 2 / 6pm
JHB: Tue 5 / 7.30pm • Sat 9 / 8pm

Women Under the Royal Thumb
The Netherlands 2002 video 50min
Dir: Remy Vlek

An eye-opening account of the women of Swaziland struggling for their rights under the crushing burden of tradition. In Africa's last absolute monarchy the king chooses a new wife each year at a ceremony called the Reed Dance. No one is allowed to refuse. Interviews with trade unionists, women's rights activists and King Mswati III's first wife reveal how the custom of polygamy, perhaps necessary once for social cohesion, has entrenched a patriarchal order which tolerates rape and child abuse, and fuels the Aids epidemic. Candid conversations with the king's wife shot in the royal palace offer rare insights into the intrigues and excesses of court life. A startling glimpse of a decadent society frozen in time, heading for disaster.

Courtesy of Filmwerk Remy Vlek

CT: Thu 24 / 6.15pm • Fri 1 / 9.30pm

Zulu Love Affairs
France 2002 video 52min
Dir: Emmanuelle Bidou

Intimate interviews and sweeping, unhurried sequences offer a revealing glimpse into the milieu inhabited by migrant labourers' wives, left to raise crops and children in the hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Some treasure their rare nights of passion with their husbands, others resent being left to languish in a wasteland of loneliness and sexual frustration. Stifled by traditions that no longer offer security or sustenance, they fall to squabbling with co-wives and in-laws, or resort to witchcraft. Selling handicrafts to make ends meet, unable to rely on their husbands' pay packets, simply compounds their anger. By turns sad, touching or amusing, this film bears eloquent testimony to the ravages of an economic system which tore families apart to feed South Africa's insatiable mines.

Courtesy of Agat Films

CT: Mon 28 / 6.15pm • Fri 1 / 6.30pm
JHB: Sat 9 / 4pm

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Atelier Zerodeux Switzerland

Close Encounters 1999 candidates Portia Rankoane and Pule Diphare were invited to Switzerland to take part in Atelier Zerodeux. Convened by Werner Schweizer, an Encounters guest in 2001, Atelier Zerodeux was to produce 50 films celebrating the 2002 Expo in Switzerland. Rankoane and Diphare spent 10 weeks in Switzerland, funded by Pro Helvetia Liaison Office Cape Town.

A Date With Helvetia
Switzerland 2002 video 15min
Dir: Pule Diphare

A man tormented by childhood images of violent struggle travels to Switzerland, model of tranquillity and order, and embarks on a quest to find Helvetia's soul. His journey takes him from Zurich's quaint, clockwork world to the majestic rural idyll of the Alps, and the Lakes region where German and French speakers meet. Finally he reaches Helvetia's confession rooms, where the dark, hidden forces that have shaped this aloof society decaying at the heart of Europe, are laid bare.

Courtesy of Dschointventschr

Screens with Qula Kwedini
CT: Sat 26 / 9.15pm • Fri 1 / 6.15pm
JHB: Fri 8 / 6pm

The Awakening of the Lakes
Switzerland 2002 video 12min
Dir: Portia Rankaone

A lyrical evocation of lakes as living beings emerging into self consciousness, and a reflection on the existential dilemma of bounded water treated as passive recipient of human projections of pleasure. In the end moving images, mounted over and mirrored by the water's surface, offer a synthesis of the submerged forces of creation and their outward expression.

Courtesy of Dschointventschr

Screens with Looking for Love
CT: Sat 26 / 7.15pm • Fri 1 / 8pm
JHB: Fri 8 / 8pm

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