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SA Documentaries

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A Fisherman’s Tale 
South Africa 2003 video 26min 
Dir: Riaan Hendricks

 

 

 

 

CT: Mon 19 / 8pm  Fri 30 / 6.15pm

This sterling directorial debut is an unusual, sensitive and personal tribute to the director’s parents. Unable to communicate with his father, but wishing to find a connection, the filmmaker seizes his father’s fishing lines and joins the crew of a snoek boat. Failing miserably as a fisherman, he poetically captures the chores, rituals, uncertainty and dignity of a hard life on the open ocean. He also delicately presents the despair the subsistence fishing community of Kalk Bay feels as globalisation, government policy and commercial operations leave them high and dry. 
Hendricks’ emotional eulogy offers a personal conversation to his parents, by bringing to light the hardened reality of an increasingly marginalised fishing community at the very tip of Africa.

Courtesy of www.riaandhfilms.com


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Forward to a People's Republic
South Africa 1981 video 20min 

 

 

 

 

CT: Thu 22 / 6pm        Tue 27 / 6.15pm

JHB: Wed 4 / 6pm   Sat 7 / 6pm

Filmed in 1981 on Freedom Day, this simple, yet effective, film shows the brave political resistance that lived deep within a frustrated, seemingly powerless community that is faced by insurmountable odds. Courageous liberation speakers incite a huge and crowded church to spiritual and moral defiance towards a common cause: "freedom in our lifetime". Members of the congregation chant ANC mantras and songs, as emotional about their belief in the Struggle as they are about their belief in God. Meanwhile, in Durban, in a highly-polished display of pomp and ceremony, the entire military might of Apartheid South Africa is being paraded for all to see. As the speakers become more passionate, honest representations of the violent reality behind the military force is revealed in photographic images of repression through force and fear, of setting dogs onto children and dispersing peaceful congregations with teargas.

Courtesy of National Film Video and Sound Archives of South Africa & Afravision Video Collective


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Archive Screenings Includes History Uncut
To Act a Lie
1978 South Africa video 23min

 

 

 

 



CT: Thu 22 / 6pm        Tue 27 / 6.15pm

JHB: Wed 4 / 6pm   Sat 7 / 6pm

Filmed by the Film Service of South Africa during the 1970s this clever and insidious film is a propaganda film aimed at righting the wrongs of "anti-apartheid propaganda".
It displays footage from the anti-apartheid films of the time, claiming that the "staged" images "strips the black man of their dignity". It juxtaposes any negative image with groovy, professional, wealthy and contented blacks at work and home in their sprawling, modern suburbs. It rolls out TV personalities, a university chancellor and even Christian Barnard to advocate the huge possibilities that exist for blacks in education, health and the media. 
Using an ingenious mixture of outright mockery and exaggeration, this dishonest presentation attempts to gloss over the real problems of apartheid. Darkly amusing in hindsight, it is a masterful lesson in twisting the truth to suit a political agenda.

Courtesy of National Film Video and 
Sound Archives of South Africa


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Art of Survival 
South Africa 2004 video 52min
Dir: Shedreck Mapasa

 

 

 



CT: Mon 19 / 6pm

To many, the prison system in South Africa represents a horrifying world that we want to forget. It is a necessary evil, a home for society”s misfits. To others it is an existence where, daily, the most difficult choices are made just to survive.

Mabaza enters a notorious Cape prison and interviews the male inmates. Adhering to a numbers system, run on military lines, all inmates are initiated into, and are bound by, the law of three gangs that rule the prisons. It”s a dog-eat-dog world, where a past offence against the gangs in another prison will catch up with you, and gang generals decide who lives and who dies, inmates and wardens alike. 
This particularly one-sided view of a violent element in South Africa”s prisons will cause protracted and heated debate.

Courtesy of the director


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Ask me, I am positive 
SA / Lesotho 2004 video 50min 
Dir: Teboho Edkins

 

 

 

 

CT: Wed 21 / 6pm

The successful Steps for the Future is a collection of films from the southern African region. It tackles, with fascinating diversity, the reality of living with HIV/AIDS. 
This thought-provoking road movie takes the Steps programme through its obvious educational extension. It shows three HIV-positive young men, Moalosi, Thabiso and Thabo, as they journey on the road to the most remote areas of Lesotho breaking the taboos and ignorance that surrounds the pandemic. With direct honesty they answer pertinent and absurd, but all-important, questions about their status. As the journey progresses, they share the disbelief, fear and lack of understanding of their condition. But, as their friendship grows, they also discuss the problems inherent in living positively and a deep desire to have a normal, honest relationship.

Courtesy of Day Zero Productions


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Belonging 
South Africa 2004 video 52min 
Dir: Minky Schlesinger and Kethiwe Ngcobo

 

 

 

 

CT: Sun 18 / 8pm  Thu 29 / 6.15pm

JHB: Wed 4 / 6pm

Born in Britain in exile, in a politically divided community, Kethiwe Ngcobo dreamt of returning to South Africa where she thought she would finally belong. But, when she returned in 1994, the land, extended family, culture and customs remained alien to her. And, with her British accent, modern values and attitudes, she to them. 

Ten years later, nothing has changed: 
"I smile, I laugh and I joke, but I don”t really connect with people," she says. With her son”s future in mind, Kethiwe embarks on a physical and emotional journey of self-discovery as she struggles to find a place that she can call home. The journey takes her to London and back, and through a traditional ritual, ukwemula, before she reaches her emotional destination.

Courtesy of SABC 1


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Cinderella of the Cape Flats 
South Africa 2004 video 58min 
Dir: Jane Kennedy

 

 

 

 

CT: Sun 18 / 6pm  Sun 1 / 8pm

This uplifting documentary sweeps us along in the growing excitement at the one time in the year when Cape Town”s 86,000 textile workers are consumed by a joyous and innocent distraction: the annual 27th Spring Queen pageant. Concentrating on Rex Truform, Kennedy follows and delves into the contestant”s dreams and aspirations. Our excitement grows as each contender competes against her colleagues -learning to shimmy down the catwalk, lose her inhibitions, choose the all-important dress, and hold her own among scores of other contestants. First, in front of her home crowd, and then, before the whole industry. 
Offset against the socio-economic reality of the worker’s lives, Cinderella of the Cape Flats is a kaleidoscope of fun and frivolity, masking a new economic reality in silk and sequins.

Courtesy of SABC 1


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Ethiopia: A Journey with Michael Buerk 
SA / UK 2003 Video 89min
Dir: Clifford Bestall

 

 

 

 

CT: Fri 23 / 6pm  Wed 28 / 6.15pm

JHB: Tues 3 / 6pm   Thu 5 / 6pm

In 1984, a huge collaboration between pop stars and world media mobilised an unprecedented attempt to save innocent Ethiopians from famine. The Geldof-organised Band Aid and ensuing Live Aid and Sports Aid events, broke all records and directed the spotlight onto a forgotten part of Africa. Twenty years later, Michael Buerk, the BBC journalist whose passionate urgency broke the news on the famine in Ethiopia, returns to meet the survivors, orphans and aid workers that remain deeply scared by the human cost. Ironically, with the continent's largest water reserves, Ethiopia is called the "water tower of Africa", but has no means to utilise this vital resource. As a result, today the situation has worsened and twice as many people are facing starvation. This honest, well-balanced documentary asks some tough questions of our role in Ethiopia's deliverance and its on-going situation.

Courtesy of the director


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Freedom is a Personal Journey 
South Africa 2004 video 49min
Dir: Akiedah Mohammed

 

 

 

 

CT: Fri 23 / 6pm  Sat 31 / 7.15pm

An illusive concept, freedom means many things to many people. Mohammed attempts to discover the personal interpretation of its meaning by two very different characters who have been through the South African prison system. Seizing her own idea of freedom at a young age, Miriam embarked on a career of petty crime, a path that ended behind bars with hardened professionals. To Gertrude, freedom came through expression. Her defiance of the government landed her in “solitary” with a horrifying programme of interrogation. Both return to Pollsmoor to discuss how incarceration forced them to find a way to create their own freedom.

Courtesy of Maxi D Productions and the director


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History Uncut Screenings

Manenberg
South Africa 2004 video 26min


In the 1980's the Afravision Video Collective was formed to offer a realistic perspective of the troubles around South Africa and neighbouring countries. Due to its content, much of this footage has never been shown. History Uncut is the footage as it was filmed, with no narrative, but its uncut format allows the viewer to absorb this history without prejudice.


In 1989, to coincide with the white-only general elections, a mass national campaign of defiance was launched in the form of a stay away. Confined to an upstairs room, this footage follows the state’s retribution. Arrogant police prowl the streets, wielding shamboks and firing birdshot indiscriminately into the increasingly irate crowds who gather and erect barricades.

Courtesy of Afravision Video Collective

History Uncut Screenings

Samora Machel Funeral
South Africa 2004 video 24min

 

CT: Sat 17 / 8pm   Tue 20 / 8pm   
Tue 27 / 8.15pm

JHB: Sun 1 / 6.15pm  Fri 6 / 9.45pm

On 20 October 1986, the Mozambique’s presidential plane crashed into a remote part of South Africa (whose government was blamed, but never admitted guilt). To his people, Machel was more than a leader, he was a national hero, and this is evident in the outpouring of grief, the long patient queues of mourners, and the international dignitaries in this footage of his state funeral.

Courtesy of Afravision Video Collective


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Hot Wax 
South Africa 2004 video 48min
Dir: Andrea Spitz

 

 

 

 

CT: Mon 19 / 7.45pm  Fri 23 / 10.15pm

JHB: Sun 1 / 6pm

Ivy is a beautician running her own successful business. Year-in, year-out, she makes the rich, mostly Jewish “madams’ in Johannesburg look and feel great. She shares the most intimate details of their lives. She gossips with them, cares about them, and gives them sound advice. To her clients, she is the best therapist around -rejuvenating the body and the spirit. But Ivy is no hollow sounding board. Being her client is to take on Ivy herself -her views, her knowledge, her life. She breaks down racial and social boundaries and allows these women of financial substance a rare and real insight into her life in Alexandria.Hot Wax is an intimate, heart-warming documentary where bridges are crossed and deep friendships forged under the guise of a superficial quest for beauty.

Courtesy of SABC 1


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Ikhaya 
South Africa 2004 video 50min 
Dir: Omelga Mthiyane

 

 

 

CT: Sun 18 / 6pm  Fri 30 / 6pm

"When you leave a place that you love so much, it takes time for the heart to forget". Ten years ago, Zimbili Kamanga fled the spiralling daily horrors of ethnic and political violence around her Depot home, on the outskirts of Bhambayi (where Ghandi formulated his response of passive resistance).
Bhambayi, a decade later, has become a vibrant district where government housing schemes promise to build a bright future for its residents. But, the impact of the bloodshed has run deep, and Aunt Zimbili finds it difficult to overcome her fear of the district’s history. Revealing the comfort people still place in the powers of Zulu traditions, Ikhaya seeks to place the memories of pain and terror in the past, where they belong, while the struggle for a future continues.

Courtesy of SABC 1


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IKON South Africa Vol. 2 
South Africa 2004 video 50min

Yu Chi Chan Club 
Dir: Vaughan Giose 

Winter is July 
Dir: Beverley Mitchell

Bloodroots 
Dir: Martina della Togna

 

 

CT: Mon 19 / 8pm  Fri 30 / 6.15pm

Each short film a concise and important essay on what it means to be South African, IKON South Africa displays three personal histories that are inexorably tied to the political and emotional struggle for a democratic South Africa. Filmed through the eyes of the subjects, this series offers diverse opinions on the heartbreaking implications of the violently enforced social structure under the Apartheid government. The son of a preacher takes up the communist ideal to further the armed struggle. A teenager decides to take up arms against the Apartheid machine. Their armed-organ was infiltrated with tragic and unexplained consequences. Della Togna’s father abandoned his Italian wife and children in South Africa and returned to Italy with a young coloured wife, also abandoned and living in exile in Venice.

Courtesy of Rainbow Circle Films


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Kuxa Kanema: The Birth of Cinema 
Portugal/Mozambique 2003 video 52min
Dir: Margarida Cardoso 

 

 

 



CT: Sat 17 / 8pm   Tue 20 / 8pm  
Tue 27 / 8.15pm

JHB: Sun 1 / 6.15pm  Fri 6 / 9.45pm

In liberating the Peoples Republic of Mozambique, Samora Machel faced the task of delivering a geographically and tribally disparate nation from poverty. He harnessed the power of film to drive this nation building agenda by creating The National Institute of Cinema .In the beginning, Kuxa Kanema travelled Mozambique’s considerable length capturing the image of the people and delivering it back to them. But as Mozambique was dragged into a debilitating civil war by the nefarious activities of Rhodesia and South Africa, hope gives way to disillusion and political rhetoric becomes more important than social development. 

Rescuing the original footage, this enthralling account of our mysterious neighbour is a superb metaphor for the thwarted socialist dream and ensuing tragic history of Mozambique.

Screens with History Uncut: Samora Machel Funeral


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The Meaning of the Buffalo 
South Africa 2004 video 61min
Dir: Karin Slater

 

 

 

 

CT: Sun 18 / 6.15pm  Sun 25 / 8.45pm

JHB: Wed 4 / 8.30pm

In the remote North-West village of Lekgophung, the Balete people cannot remember why they are inextricably linked to their totem, the Buffalo. As a wildlife filmmaker, Slater has a strong and almost fatal buffalo past that has mysteriously drawn her to this dusty, drought-ridden land. 
At first, the villagers are reticent; stupefied but curious as to why a white woman is so insistent on knowing the "secret" legends, folklore and praise poetry of their totem. Frustrated by a missing book, a sick chief, ignorant youths and reluctant elders, Slater persists, enlisting the help of local shopkeeper, Buffalo Bill. They launch a competition that inspires the community to uncover its heritage.
Gently humourous and wonderfully poignant, this beautifully shot film observes the Balete reclaim the rich heritage, beliefs, stories and redemption of their forefathers.

Courtesy of SABC 1


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Memories of Rain 
Germany/South Africa 2003 video 155min
Dir: Gisela Albrecht and Angela Mai

 

 

 

CT: Sat 24 / 6pm  Fri 30 / 7.30pm

JHB: Mon 2 / 8pm   Sat 7 / 8.15pm

This film examines the emotional and political reasons for the subversive, secret actions of many that maintained and drove the struggle for South Africa. Looking at the difficult and life-threatening choices of two ANC underground operatives, Memories of Rain discusses the past double lives of two people: Jenny Cargill and Kevin Qhobosheane. Jenny and Kevin played two very different, yet vital, roles. She was a white journalist from Durban, he a fifteen-year-old black boy leaving his grandmother to join the armed struggle. Both became commanders in the intelligence service of the ANC. This absorbing documentary charts how two people from dissimilar backgrounds developed. It analyses core influences, including their childhoods, development of ideals, catalysts to action, lives in exile, return to a dual existence, and the constant threat of discovery.

Courtesy of the directors


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Mix 
South Africa 2004 video 52min
Dir: Rudzani Dzuguda

 

 

 

CT        :           Thu 22 / 10.15pm  Fri 30 / 9.45pm

JHB: Mon 2 / 6.15pm

In 1994, South Africans experienced two very different freedoms: emancipation from oppression and liberation of personal expression. The youth of South Africa seized on the opportunities offered by the first to explore the wealth of options arising from the second. Parents didn’t often agree with the choices they made. Being two self-confident, female, hip-hop DJs, Tumelo and Dominique cannot reconcile their very modern life-style choices with the conservative expectations of their families. Their families are equally bemused, unable to relate to the children that they once knew. A stalemate exists as neither party seeks to bridge the generation gap. Set in the ultra cool hip-hop culture, Dom and Tumelo are trying to find themselves, remaining defiantly dedicated to their free existence and musical passion.

Courtesy of SABC 1


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Spirits of the Uhadi 
South Africa 2004 video 48min
Dir: Lauren Groenewald

 

 

 

CT: Sat 24 / 10.30pm   
Sat 31 / 6.15pm

Thandiswa Mazwai is the beautiful, trendy lead singer of the Kwaito band, Bongo Muffin. Her music makes her a very modern role model. Feisty, yet broadminded, Madosini Manqina is an internationally recognised, but locally unacknowledged, custodian of the ancient music of the amaXhosa. She believes that music’s spirit echoes from the legend of creation. Thandiswa and Madosini are icons of South African music, but at the opposite ends of the spectrum. In this sensitive and engaging documentary, Thandiswa is determined to recapture a heritage that she feels will contribute to her music and add to her sense of belonging. But first, teacher and pupil must travel to Mkhankato outside Umtata to initiate Thandiswa into the rural traditions and rituals that are an integral part of the culture’s music.

Courtesy of Plexus Films, Foxfire Media and SABC 1.


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The Story of a Beautiful Country
South Africa 2004 video 73min
Dir: Khalo Matabane

 

 

 


CT: Sat 17 / 6.15pm  Fri 30 / 6.15pm

JHB: Wed 4 / 8pm

Matabane returns to South Africa intrigued by the beliefs, attitudes, religions, and personalities that make up the people of the "rainbow nation". Exploring the length and breadth of this vast beautiful land, he seeks out the "ordinary" South African, intent on discovering just what being South African means, and what changes the last ten years have wrought. He shows no discrimination, interviewing black cellphone-wielding yuppies, a proud coloured girl, a gun-toting member of the boeremag, teenagers, sax players, and a hip, talkative mixed couple. He stipulates one extraordinary restriction: they can say anything as long as they are interviewed in the back of a moving combi. This intriguing device celebrates the dynamic beauty and diversity of our people as reflected in our panoramic, constantly changing and spectacular countryside.

Courtesy of Day Zero Productions


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Tania Raised Us
South Africa 2004 video 48min
Dir: Jack Lewis

 

 


CT: Sat 17 / 6pm  Wed 28 / 6pm

Swerving around the ysterman on his horse-drawn cart is a common part of road life in Cape Town. But, if you have ever wondered what conditions those horses live in, this endearing tale shows just how important one sector of this industry considers their animals. In a tenuous, but respectful, relationship with the SPCA, Boss Ely employs and feeds a motley crew of ex-street kids to groom the horses. Balancing the cost of feed and the need for a profit with due consideration for the horses, Ely tries to keep the horses and kids alike in the best conditions possible. With obvious respect, Lewis presents a sensitive perspective on the lives and desires of a community that scavenges for scrap and in doing so, provides an essential service.

Courtesy of Idol Pictures


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Through the Eyes of my Daughter 
South Africa 2004 video 48min 
Dir: Zulfah Otto-Sallies

 

 

 

CT: Sun 18 / 7.45pm  Mon 26 / 6pm

This film is both a gentle celebration of a child by her parent, and a rare insight into a family enriched by an old and colourful community, whose identity is adapting to a new generation in a very different world. Otto-Sallies is intrigued by her fifteen year old, Muneere. Displaying all the characteristics of the typical teen, alternatively embarrassed by, performing for, and indifferent to the camera, we follow Muneere for a year as she comes into her own and explores her options. Both mother and daughter were raised within the same conservative tradition, religion and environment of the historic Bo-Kaap. Essentially this is a teenager’s view of her world, but when it’s the filmmaker’s daughter being filmed it becomes a brave exploration of home, values, and difficult choices. 

Courtesy of SABC 1


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Umgidi
South Africa 2004 video 74min 
Dir: Sipho Singiswa  
and Gillian Schutte

 

 

 

 

CT: Sun 18 / 7.45pm  Sat 31 / 8.45pm

JHB: Sat 7 / 8pm

The ceremony surrounding male circumcision plays a very important role in traditional Xhosa culture. It is considered a rite of passage -a cause for communal celebration when the ancestors are evoked, and the community pays respect to the initiate’s family. Incarcerated on Robben Island during the Struggle, Sipho viewed the ritual both as an act of resistance (when circumcision was viewed as "damaging state property") and as an ancient rite that had to be conducted in a haze of secrecy and brotherly support. Ten years after the Struggle succeeded, and with his son in mind, Sipho wants to commemorate his transition into manhood with an announcement ceremony. This extraordinarily intimate look at this ancient, and continuingly controversial, initiation into manhood shows how modern attitudes and family expectations often conflict with individual choice.

Courtesy of SABC 1



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Voice Over 
South Africa 2004 video 6min 
Dir: Shelley Barry



CT: Fri 23 / 6pm  Sat 31 / 7.15pm

In this simple, but profoundly effective, poetic presentation, Barry speaks out about the reality of living with a disability that impaired her ability to express herself. 

Courtesy of the director

 




International Documentaries

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Death in Gaza
UK 2004 video 79min
Dir: James Miller


BRITISH FOCUS

 

 

CT: Mon 19 / 6.15pm 
Fri 23 / 6.15pm 
Thu 29 / 8pm

JHB: Mon 2 / 6pm   Fri 6 / 8pm  

The director of this film was killed whilst making it, however, this powerful documentary is not only about the rights and wrongs of the Palestine/Israeli confrontation. Instead, it presents an impartial view of the influence war has on the innocents. 
Caught in the vicious circle of violence that perpetuates the conflict, three children in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah, allow us into their world. The construction of the Israeli-guarded security zone claims civilian lives and homes, as the Palestinian paramilitaries use every glorious death to recruit children and groom them for martyrdom. The three children who assist the nightly excursions of the paramilitaries, are more scared of their mothers than tanks, and play games that mimic the devastating tools of war, where the winner is a martyr.

2004 -Audience Award -Hot Docs / 2004 -SILVERDOCS Sterling Award 
Courtesy of HBO Documentaries


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Hopes on the Horizon
USA/UK/Nigeria 2001 video 120min 
Dir: Onyekachi Wambu

 

 

 


BRITISH FOCUS

CT: Wed 21 / 8.00pm 
Sun 25 / 6pm

During the 1990s, concerted efforts by civil society throughout Africa shook off the debilitating mantle that had plagued the continent for so long. Happening gradually over ten years, this fascinating film offers a cohesive analysis of the events through the eyes of the people who initiated, witnessed and participated in the turbulent, revolutionary changes that have altered our continent for the better.
Focusing on Benin, Nigeria, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, and South Africa, this film uses interviews and key video footage to portray a new generation of Africans that fought for democratic values against a backdrop of dictatorships, corruption, economic ruin and military rule. Using a theme specific to each country, the filmmakers balance historical precedents against the astonishing results, including fundamental changes in social structure, governance, economic and civil rights. 

Courtesy of the director


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Nick goes to Nollywood 
Nigeria/UK 2004 video 60min 
Dir: Brenda Goldblatt & Alicia Arce

 

 

 


BRITISH FOCUS

CT: Thu 22 / 10.15pm  Fri 30 / 9.45pm

JHB: Sat 31 / 10.15pm  Sun 8 / 8pm

Nigerias' is the third largest filmmaking industry in the world, producing over 800 films annually. It's fast and furious, but haphazard and with tiny budgets. Driven by quantity not quality, the romantic/action storylines are neither sophisticated nor dynamic, but they are commercial dynamite.
In steps aspiring director and star of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Nick Moran. Nick arrogantly embarks on a quest to make an entirely Nigerian hit movie using a Nigerian storyline, Nigerian stars, producers, crew, timeframes, equipment, locations and situations. But, he drastically underestimates the quintessential pace, demands, egos, and ferocity of the industry and is more than challenged by doing things according to the Nollywood work ethic. It's a rollicking ride of a film -with a moralÉ just because it’s the African way doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way.

Courtesy of BBC and the directors


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Touching the Void 
UK 2004 video 106min 
Dir: Kevin MacDonald

 

 

 


BRITISH FOCUS

CT: Sat 17 / 9.45pm  Fri 23 / 10pm 
Sat 24 / 10.15pm  Fri 30 / 10.15pm

JHB: Wed 4 / 6pm Fri 6 / 8pm

Based on fact, this gripping film realistically re-creates one of the most miraculous accidents in the history of mountaineering. This is a nail-biting story of mental and physical hell, extreme pain, horrific choices and a nightmare bid for survival. Partly reconstructed, partly told by the two survivors, MacDonald artfully paints the story of two climbers who, 20 years ago, decided to climb the unconquered Siula Grande, a remote 21,000-foot peak in the Peruvian Andes. After a successful three and a half-day ascent, Simpson falls and breaks his leg. Despite the risk to himself, Yates is willing to drag Simpson out. That is until, still attached, Simpson falls over an abyss. Thinking Simpson is dead and worried he would be dragged with him, Yates cuts Simpson free. What ensues is an incredible tale of survival against insurmountable odds.

BAFTA Awards -Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film Evening Standard British Film Award - Courtesy of Ster-Kinekor


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Beyond Reason
Netherlands 2003 35mm 100min
Dir: Marijke Jongbloed

 

 

 


DUTCH FOCUS

CT: Tue 20 / 8pm  Sat 24 / 8pm

As a young, idealistic and impressionable seventeen year old, Gea became the pen pal of Bryan Jennings, a man on death row in America

Over a sixteen-year correspondence that covers everything but the circumstances behind his incarceration, Gea becomes emotionally attached to the sensitive, introspective man Bryan has become. 
Frustrated by her helplessness, she compiles and publishes a book of their letters in order to raise the funds needed to reopen his case, and commute his sentence to life without parole. But to do so, she must learn about the crime he resolutely refuses to discuss. This brave, personal journey confronts the hideous truth of an unremittingly bleak future. It is also about coming to terms with crime and challenging a friendship to cross all barriers.

Courtesy of Holland Film and the Director


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Justice
Netherlands 2004 35mm 100min 
Dir: Maria Ramos

 

 

 

 


DUTCH FOCUS

CT: Wed 21 / 6pm  Wed 28 / 7.30pm

In this despairing, yet enthralling view of the Brazil’s justice system, Ramos’ fly-on-the-wall documentary covers all aspects of trial in Rio's overcrowded judicial system; pristine courtrooms contrast dramatically with the vile and heaving remand conditions where prisoners chant songs on the many merits of justice. Perceptively filmed, Ramos interviews a career-oriented judge, a sympathetic and frustrated public attorney and a young, powerless suspect. Highlighting both the social and financial discrepancies that exist, Ramos observes the plight of the “criminal’ as his future hangs in the balance. We meet his family -his disconsolate mother who loses herself in prayer, and the quiet girlfriend who gives birth to their second child before his trial. Placed under the spotlight, Brazil’s judicial process exposes an established order fuelled by the invidious whims, beatings, and corruption of the police.

Grand Prix for best film at Visions du Reel in Nyon 2004 - 
Courtesy of Selfmade Films


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Keeping it Real 
Netherlands 2004 video 52min 
Dir: Sunny Bergman

 

 

 

 


DUTCH FOCUS

CT: Sat 17 / 9.15pm   Sat 31 / 6pm

As modern life becomes increasingly unreal and reality becomes banal and boring, the "experience" economy has sprung up, dedicated to offering authentic experiences. Struggling with this, and acknowledging her own experiential weaknesses, Bergman delivers a humorous investigation into the clichˇd illusion of authenticity. Successfully touching on very complicated themes, Bergman tries to unravel the true definition of authentic reality by using bizarre and incongruous examples. An ex-boyfriend is more genuine because he grew up in poverty in Africa, and Theo’s successful and "authentic" homeless tour of the city means that his pride in a recently acquired flat must be kept secret. A rugged bundu-bashing sponsored adventurer subverts reality in the name of social expectation and, based on his example, a professional woman embarks on a self-discovering solo voyages around the globe. 

Courtesy of Viewpoint Productions


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The Last Victory
Netherlands 2003 video 88min
Dir: John Appel

 

 

 


DUTCH FOCUS

CT: Sat 17 / 7.30pm  Wed 28 / 8.15pm

JHB: Sun 1 / 8pm  Fri 6 / 6.15pm

To describe Il Palio as a horse race is to liken Table Mountain to an inconsequential hillock. Held in the very heart of medieval Siena, Italy, this ancient annual event inspires extreme commitment, dedication, and emotion; but mostly indomitable pride. Although incredibly dangerous, this battle is not fought between the jockeys; it’s an event that binds the community, pitching them into passionate inter-city rivalry through a fierce display of pageantry. At three treacherous laps of the tiny Piazza del Campo, the race lasts less than a minute; but it disrupts daily life for six weeks, and devastates the losing districts for years. This moving and lively film follows the devotion and hope of 92-year-old dignitary Egidio, the stable hand, and the Capitano of the contrada of Civetta, unfurling the story as the tangible excitement grows.

Courtesy of Holland Film

2003 International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) 
Joris Ivens award


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Haiti: The end of the "Chimeres"? 
France 2004 video 70min
Dir: Charles Najman 

 

 

 


FRENCH FOCUS

Fri 23 / 7.45pm  Tue 27 / 8.45pm 
Thu 29 / 6.15pm

JHB: Sat 31 / 10pm  Tue 3 / 6pm

Beginning with Aristide’s tribute to liberty, fraternity and equality at the Haitian bi-centenary celebrations in January 2004, this enthralling documentary tries to uncover the historical reasons behind Haiti’s constant and bitter cycle of political tragedy and poverty.  Concentrating on the real problems that have plagued this island country since its revolutionary independence in 1804, Najman presents a compelling string of facts, posturing, legends and opinions from Haitian intellectuals, ruling elite, and diplomats. Interviews with teenage "Chimeres" reveal Aristide’s dependence on an effective, terror-inspiring youth as his personal militia. It also explains Aristide’s use of evangelical politics to support his popular and meteoric rise, his corruption in exile, and the unmitigated power he wielded until his recent downfall.  With unexpected, yet perfect timing Najman places into context the recent events in Haiti.

Courtesy of Dominant 7 and the director


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The House of Saud 
France/UK 2004 video 120min 
Dir: Jihan el-Tahri

 

 


FRENCH FOCUS

CT: Thu 22 / 7.30pm  Sun 25 / 7.30pm

JHB: Sun 1 / 8pm   Thu 5 / 8.15pm
 

The historical milieu behind 9/11 is intricately explained in this absorbing documentary.
Using historical footage and unique interviews with 
princes, diplomats, and major political figures, it charts the emergence of a divided and impoverished ancient desert kingdom into a domestically troubled world player. Concentrating on the history of the Kingdom, the film goes behind the scenes of Saudi’s diplomatic approach to the Palestine question, its financial alliance with America and America’s political betrayal, the oil crisis, Afghanistan, and its massive funding of the first Gulf War. It also describes the social turmoil and trauma that all-encompassing modernisation brought to the people, and indicates the pervasive influence of religion on every aspect of daily life.

Courtesy of the director


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Corn in Parliament
Switzerland 2003 35mm 90min
Dir: Jean-Stephane Bron 

 

 

 

[Flag of Switzerland]
SWISS FOCUS

CT: Tue 20 / 6pm  Mon 26 / 8.15pm

JHB: Tues 3 / 7.45pm  Sat 7 / 6.15pm

An essay charting Switzerland”s democratic approach to creating a law (Gen-Lex) regulating genetically engineered animals and crops, this intriguing film is so much more than a political film. It very simply presents the political games, compromises, deal-making, emotional battles and tender humanity of people who both embrace and fear the future, but are tasked to formulate this groundbreaking Swiss law. 
Although never allowed into the inner sanctum where tempers flare and ideals and business interest collide, the filmmakers remain completely impartial, presenting the interests and personalities of the major players, and balancing their views on the ethical, moral, social and developmental implications of revolutionary scientific research. With wonderful poise, it reduces increasingly detached politics and political processes down to a human level. 

Courtesy of Cine-Manufacture


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Lucky Jack: 
Three attempts to stop smoking 
Switzerland 2003 Video 90min
Dir: Peter Liechti

 

 

[Flag of Switzerland]
SWISS FOCUS

CT: Fri 23 / 8.15pm  Mon 26 / 6pm

Peter has decided to give up smoking. To strengthen his resolve, he embarks on a strict smoke-less walk across country from Zurich to the town of his (and his smoking addiction’s) origin, St Gallen. 
Although Peter fails to throw off the addiction twice and has to return to St Gallen by increasingly obscure routes, this is more than just a video diary of his thoughts and perceptions on himself, the ensuing encounters and the people he meets. It is a wry and self-depreciating love letter to the Swiss German community that questions his arrogant disregard of the elderly and customs that are being lost in a fast, impersonal world. His view is developed through endearing meetings with quietly fascinating people, including an ancient indomitable sweetheart, a pure-spirited farmer, and his fastidious parents.

Courtesy of Pro-Helvetia and the director


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Bus 174 
Brazil 2002 35mm 120min 
Dir: Jose Padilha

 

 

 

 

 

CT: Wed 21 / 7.45pm  Sun 25 / 6.15pm

 

In July 2000, the daily grind in Rio de Janeiro is thrown into disarray by a terrifying hostage situation that unfolds on Bus 174 at the Jardim Botonico. Eleven innocent passengers are held hostage by an increasingly desperate street kid, Sandro, now trapped inside by the police, SWAT snipers, and TV cameras.  Despite negotiators, the siege and terror last well into the night. Insightful filming, interviews with the victims, police and snipers, and extensive cctv and news footage, relay the bulk of the drama. What makes this film truly compelling is that the filmmaker not only builds an in-depth profile of Sandro, but investigates the conditions that created the crisis, including the deep societal embarrassment and inaction that ultimately lead to this neglected citizen's extreme cry for attention.

2002 -FIPRESCI Jury Award, Best Brazilian Film;
Sao Paulo IFF, Best Documentary 
2003 -Miami IFF,Best Documentary;
Sundance Film Festival selection.


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Capturing the Friedmans
USA 2002 35mm 107min
Dir: Andrew Jarecki

 

 

 

 

CT: Fri 16 / 8pm  Thu 22 / 8.30pm 
Mon 26 / 8pm  Wed 28 / 8.45pm

JHB: Fri 30 / 8pm  Sat 31 / 6.15pm 
Thu 5 / 8pm   Sun 8 / 8.15pm

Displaying in detail every reason for and against an hysterical witch-hunt, this fascinating, intimate and controversial film objectively questions the notion of social justice. 
Arnold, Elaine and their three boys, grew up in upper-middle class suburbia. By all accounts, they have it all; until a paedophile magazine is tracked to the Friedman house. Arnold”s daily contact with children energises a massive, quick-strike investigation. When children, under the guidance of the police, reveal outlandish stories of secretive communal abuse and naked leap-frog, the quiet community becomes hysterical, and the family falls apart.
Including an extraordinary archive of home-videos, candid footage of the family”s most harrowing moments and interviews with the victims, this is a penetrating expose of a subject that no-one will usually touch.

2003 Sundance Grand Jury Prize
2003 Nominated for OscarØ - Documentary Feature


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Citizen King
USA 2004 video 110min 
Dir: Orlando Bagwell and Noland Walker

 

 

 

 

CT: Mon 19 / 7.45pm  Wed 28 / 6pm 
Sun 1 / 7.30pm

JHB: Mon 2 / 7.45pm   Sun 8 / 6pm

Dr Martin Luther King, Jnr. represented many things to many people. To the world, he was a stubbornly dedicated American legend whose implacable moral courage and devotion to the peaceful resolution of conflict inspired revolutionary processes around the world; a Nobel Peace Prize winner; and a martyred civil and human rights activist.
Combined with fascinating archive footage of the many remarkable events that changed the course of US history and its laws, are interviews with King”s major allies in the struggle. But, the truly forceful nature of this documentary comes from unveiling of the personality and power of conviction that drove this gently humorous family man and community preacher to challenge the status quo, that led to unprovoked attacks by J. Edgar Hoover and his assassination.

Courtesy of Roja Productions


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Control Room
USA / Egypt 2003 Video 52min 
Dir: Jehane Noujaim

 

 

 

 

CT: Wed 21 / 6pm  Sat 31 / 6pm

JHB: Mon 2 / 8.15pm   Fri 6 / 6pm

As the US-led Coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, every news channel flew in and relayed back to their audience information on the ensuing war that was co-ordinated by the US army which was fighting both a media and a ground war. One channel had a different view of events. 
Offering a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq War, Control Room show how Al Jazeera broadcast the unfolding events to 40 million Arab viewers. Claiming to be objective, Al Jazeera was intent on presenting the "human cost" of war and was publicly vilified by both Bush and Rumsfeld for it. This passionate expose is a clear document of war, an inquiry into how events are filtered into "news," and a complex portrait of the personalities behind the scenes.

Grand Jury - 7th annual Full Frame Documentary Festival


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The Corporation
Canada 2004 video 145min
Dir: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott 
and Joel Bakan

 

 

 

 

CT: Wed 21 / 7.45pm  Tue 27 / 6pm 
Thu 29 / 7.45pm

JHB: Sat 31 / 6pm   Sat 7 / 8pm

 

Dissecting the personality of corporations as a legal "Person" with penetrating precision, the directors of this thought-provoking documentary come up with irrefutable evidence that these "Persons" are, in fact, psychopaths. But, this is not the mass slating of single corporate entities (although many are cited) -it is an investigation into why the "body" corporate has such profound global political, commercial and psychological influence.
Cohesive, intelligent and well balanced, the film expresses the views of anti-corporate activists and meets the exploited, just as it invites the Corporations to pose their side of the argument. CEOs and corporate insiders account for their past and present misconduct in the name of the shareholders and profit motivation. But unfortunately, paralleled against damning evidence, their moral and responsible track-record as citizens is still out with the jury.

NFB Best Documentary Award - Calgary Film Festival


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Detail 
Israel2004 video 8 min 
Dir: Avi Mograbi 

 

 

 

CT: Tue 20 / 6.15pm   Mon 26 / 7.45pm 
Thu 29 / 6pm

JHB: Sat 31 / 8.45pm  Sun 8 / 6pm

 

With effortless simplicity, Mograbi presents a stunning insight into the emotional trauma experienced by 3.5 million Palestinians in attempting to cross the “border” patrols implacably manned by Israeli soldiers. 

 

The humiliation is excruciating, but this unbearable lack of control over their destiny has become a daily reality.


Courtesy of the director


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The Five Obstructions
Denmark 2003 video 90min 
Dirs: Lars von Trier, Jorgen Leth 

 

 

 

 

 

CT: Thu 22 / 6pm  Sun 1 / 6.15pm

JHB: Tues 3 / 6.15pm  Thu 5 / 6pm

In this incredible homage to inspirational filmmaking as Art, The Five Obstructions mimics reality TV at its finest, creating a Great Race for filmmakers. Lars von Trier holds legendary director Jorgen Leth’s artistic approach in the highest esteem, but he feels that he is often too clean, too objective. Acting as an artistic Machiavelli, von Trier challenges Leth to stretch his creativity to the limit, by setting seemingly insurmountable and perverse restrictions to filming five re-creations of Leth’s seminal film, The Perfect Man. Charting every frustrated, exhilarated and inspired moment of the game as it develops, both von Trier and Leth use strategy to trip the other up. But, having knowingly undertaken a sort-of film therapy with himself, Leth consistently delivers truly astounding work that is precisely to brief, and although humbled, von Trier is never completely satisfied.

Courtesy of the Danish Film Institute


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Game Over - 
Kasparov and the Machine 
USA 2002 video 84min 
Dir: Vikram Jayanti 

 

 

 

 

CT: Sat 17 / 9.30pm  Sun 1 / 8.15pm

In 1997, the responsibility of defending our "higher" intelligence was laid at the feet of Garry Kasparov. He rose to the ultimate challenge in the guise of a chess-match against IBM's Deep Blue. Pitching the human brain against the mathematical machine captured the worldÕs imagination. The media-coverage of this symbolic event ensured that it was followed and remembered by mollions. Not just a film for chess-fanatics (not much chess is featured), it looks deep behind the scenes, into the emotions and anxiety that rocked the event. It shows how an acknowledged genius took on a corporate giant and, due to tension, pressure, corporate politics and psychological warfare, lost. Six years on, a haunted Kasparov returns to those fateful days and we meet Deep Blue's creators, and hear their side of this fascinating, but controversial, story.

Courtesy of the director


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Home of the Brave, Land of the Free
Norway 2003 video 52min 
Dir: John Sullivan

 

 

 

 

CT: Tue 20 / 6pm                Sat 24 / 8.45pm 
Sat 31 / 7.45pm

JHB: Sat 31 / 6pm  Wed 4 / 8pm

Exhibiting the reality of a career that is often fantasised about, but never recorded -that of the soldier -Sullivan objectively shows the, frustrations and problems, both logistical and cultural, of the US Special Forces in Afghanistan. Crisply dressed as Afghani farmers or in fatigues, these professional soldiers carry out Operation Enduring Freedom -the gung-ho, on-the-ground application of America’s "Reign on terror". In this stark mountainous border region, north of Jalalabad, the poverty is only partially alleviated through heroin-manufacture, car smuggling (over the Khyber Pass on a camel), and weapon storing for Al Qaeda. Hunting for Osama Bin Laden and caches of weapons, the US Forces distribute pillows, pills, muffins and children’s toys and dig out caves, blow down gates, and take on warlords. All displaying that in this corner of the world, the ideal of democratic values is a distant dream.

Courtesy of the Norwegian Film Institute


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Hush 
Russia 2002 video 80min
Dir: Victor Kossakovsky

 

 

 

 

CT: Sat 17 / 6pm  Sun 25 / 8.30pm

JHB: Sun 1 / 7.45pm   Fri 6 / 10.15pm

Not venturing far from his own reality, legendary filmmaker, Kossakovsky has created an elegant, amusing piece of visual poetry out of the most unexpected subject matter. Not moving from the few square metres of his street-facing window, he records a year in the life of an inconsequential street in St Petersburg. Although the main fascination is a year-long, increasingly comical quest to repair burst pipes, other remarkable, yet tiny, events occur including dogs congregating, lovers falling over each other in the rain, men breaking for freedom, a man waiting for his lover with flowers, and municipal workers scrubbing the exteriors of buildings. This elegiac piece captures in a timeless dance the obscure and banal minutiae of the everyday life of complete strangers set to a mixture of vaudeville and classical music.

Courtesy of the director


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I Used to be a Filmmaker 
USA 2003 video 10min 
Dir: Jay Rosenblatt 

 

In a tender and playful cinematic eulogy to his infant daughter Ella, Rosenblatt juxtaposes the film industry’s technical terms and jargon with adoring footage of Ella’s emotional, physical and 
communicational development. 

 

This endearing film is the record of a proud father falling deeply 
in love with his daughter, and her increasing understanding of 
how to manipulate his attention.

Courtesy of the director


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Imelda
USA 2003 video 103min
Dir: Ramona S. Diaz

 

 

 

 

CT: Sat 17 / 7.45pm   Fri 23 / 10.30pm
Sun 1 / 6pm

JHB: Mon 2 / 6pm  Sun 8 / 7.45pm

A wonderfully well-balanced and quietly chilling account of the infamous Filipino dictator’s wife, and renowned shoe-fetishist, Imelda Marcos, that tiptoes along the fine line between the eulogy that Imelda imagined the filmmakers were making, and concise insights into a brutal 21 year reign of corruption (1965Š86) that she refuses to acknowledge. Beautifully coifed, we listen to the bizarre, but ultimately deluded existential philosophies Imelda uses to exclude herself from the excesses of her husband’s regime, despite her laughing portrayal of the very real power she held. Visiting the various palaces of her previous life, we follow Imelda on a political campaign around the Philippines. Precise editing wittily intersperses archive footage and interviews -with friends and "foes" alike -to interrupt the narrative of a life lived by a self-created personality-cult: Imelda.

Courtesy of United International and the director


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The King and Dick 
USA 2004 video 9min 
Dir: Scott Calonico 

 

 

 

This is the amusingly presented, but terrifyingly true account of the bizarre meeting between two of the twentieth century’s most influential and ill-fated figures: Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon, to discuss Presley becoming a NARC.

Courtesy of Slowkid Productions


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The Man who loved Haugesund
Norway 2003 video 59min
Dir: Jon Haukeland & Tore Vollan

 

 

 

 

 

CT: Sun 25 / 6pm  Sun 1 / 6pm

This is the fascinating rags-to-riches tale of salesman Moritz Rabinowitz who landed, in 1911, in the village of Haugesund. He decides to stay and builds a nation-wide textile and clothing empire whose employee-relations and business approach were far ahead of its time. 
Despite the wealth that he brings the region, Rabinowitz is a Jew, and envious of his success, and disdainful of his religion, Haugesund society rejects him. In this social isolation he writes relentless shrewd, high-profile newspaper articles advocating a united Europe and criticising Nazism’s malevolent rise. He is ignored until the Nazis invade, and begin to hunt him down. With detailed interviews, this film beautifully captures Rabinowitz’s complex character and offers a personal glimpse into the looming terror of the Nazi menace.

Courtesy of the Norwegian Film Institute


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Metallica: Some Kind of Monster 
USA 2003 video 139min
Dir: Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky

 

 

 

 

CT: Tue 20 / 7.30pm  Sat 24 / 6pm 
Thu 29 / 7.45pm

JHB: Sat 31 / 9.30pm  Fri 6 / 10pm

This enthralling documentary is not just for fans of the thrashing kings of Heavy Metal. This three-year-long study shows a completely different side to the media-projected culture of the band. Maybe they have just grown up, but twenty years after they first began jamming together, Metallica is not what you think they are. Here they battle rehab, themselves and each other, work like demons, and undergo protracted and intrusive therapy to keep their music on track.
It shows the sensitive side of gravel-voiced, devil-may-care front man James. Feisty drummer, and anti-Napster crusader, Lars desperately fights to keep the band together. And mild-mannered Kirk, good-naturedly weathers the continual clash between James and Lars. Most of all, it displays the hard work that constantly pushes the creative boundaries for one album.


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No. 17 
Israel 2003 video 75min 
Dir: David Ofek

 

 

 

 

CT: Tue 20 / 6.15pm   Mon 26 / 7.45pm 
Thu 29 / 6pm

JHB: Sat 31 / 8.45pm  Sun 8 / 6pm

A bus is bombed by Hamas at Meggido Junction in 2002, killing 18 and wounding 50. Although with a tragic starting point, this fascinating documentary reveals so much more than the usual war-strewn recriminations; it presents real people living real lives. One of the victims of the bombing has not been claimed. The authorities assume that he is an “illegal immigrant” and, not knowing his religious status, bury him in unhallowed ground. Described as “a very average person who died a non-average death,” the lack of identity of this victim piques the filmmaker’s curiosity. He launches a thorough investigation, deep into Israeli society, steadily creating an identikit by accessing the memories of the survivors, bus employees, forensic scientists, and social workers, on behalf of the police.

Screens with Detail


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The Perfect Human
Denmark 1967 video 13min 
Dir: Jorgen Leth

 

 

 

 

 

CT: Thu 22 / 6pm  Sun 1 / 6.15pm

JHB: Tues 3 / 6.15pm  Thu 5 / 6pm

This simple, fluid and now cult representation of the model male and female Dane is the most concise representation of Jorgen Leth’s holistic approach to art. The Perfect Human presents -in the guise of a serious anthropological exercise -an intentionally simplistic, but enduringly poignant view of our expectations and perceptions of perfection. Using a stark background, with a few necessary props, Leth objectively displays his impression of normality as applied to the perfect human through a choreographed display of banal activities juxtaposed with obscure thoughts and behaviour. 
An influential poet, actor and writer, Leth has directed over 35 films receiving numerous international honours and awards. As a guest lecturer at the National Film School in Denmark, Leth influenced a new generation of Danish filmmakers, including Lars von Trier.

Courtesy of the Danish Film Institute


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Riding Giants
USA 2004 35mm 105min
Dir: Stacy Peralta

 

 

 

 

CT: Mon 19 / 6pm               Thu 22 / 10.15pm 
Mon 26 / 6pm  Sat 31 / 9.15pm

JHB: Tues 3 / 8pm   Sat 7 / 6pm

Do not be fooled. This thrilling documentary is not only a surfer’s nirvana; it takes us on a quest for the supreme pleasure, ideal shape, and mind-blowing experience of being chased by a mountain of water. We meet the intrepidly likeable surf gods: unmistakable Greg Noll who was the first to take on the 60ft North Shore waves; Jeff Clark, who surfed the hazardous Mavericks alone for 15 years; and legend of the moment, Laird Hamilton, who continues to push the boundaries of surfing. With fascinating archive footage showing the history of the sport, including its pop-cultural boom, this film delves deep within the psyche of an extreme sport athlete. It offers an insight into the fear, adrenaline, and single-minded pursuit of conquering the gut-wrenching vertical drops of a monster swell.

2004: Opening Night film - Sundance Film Festival

Courtesy of Ster-Kinekor


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S21, the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
France 2002 video 101min
Dir: Rithy Panh

 

 

 

 

CT: Sat 24 / 6pm  Tue 27 / 6pm

JHB: Sun 1 / 6pm               Fri 6 / 6pm

As part of the genocide enacted on the Cambodian people by Pol Pot in the 1970s, guards at the infamous detention centre S21 (code name for Tuol Sleng) interrogated and executed over 17,000 "threats to the state". Survivor Panh, whose ability to paint saved his life, invites two survivors to meet with four guards at S21. Attempting to explain and understand the past, they wade through the vast records and photos left behind, gently interrogating the guards on their conduct and routines, which they re-enact with disturbingly repetitive and dead-pan precision. Drawing a fascinating, effective, yet disturbing picture, these scarred survivors from both sides, try to seek relief by describing a culture of paranoia and force that was designed to crush any trace of humanity.

Festival de Cannes -Prix Francois Chalais
Prix Italia -Cultural Identity Category
Courtesy of Institute National de L’Audiovisuel


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Shiny Stars, Rusty Red
Norway/China 2003 video 60min
Dir: Elisabeth O. Sjaastad

 

 

 

 

 

 

CT: Sat 24 / 10pm  Sat 31 / 9.45pm

"The American dream is over, a Chinese dream is coming!" challenges Chen Kaige, director of Farewell My Concubine. This is a challenge that celebrated commercials (but frustrated features) director, Wang Yuelun, is determined to live up to. But this entails convincing producers to fund his first feature film. In fascinating detail, his quest reveals daily Chinese life in neon Bejing. We meet Yuelen’s proud, aspirational parents, his gorgeously petulant girlfriend, an arrogant producer, and major players in China’s official and unofficial film industry. Juxtaposing images of gyrating robotic cameras with an intense belief in the predictions of his fortune teller and the opinions of maverick directors, Sjaastad succinctly depicts the conflict between strict communist ideals and economic progress, including the increasing insurgence and influence of capitalist values.

Courtesy of the Norwegian Film Institute


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To Live is Better Than to Die
China 2003 video 60min
Dir: Weijun Chen

 

 

 

 

 

CT: Thu 22 / 6pm   Fri 30 / 8pm

JHB: Tues 3 / 8.15pm  Thu 5 / 8.15pm

In this heartbreaking story Ma Shengyi, an intelligent, compassionate man, has the usual worries about the future: the health and financial security of his three young children. Touching scenes of paternal dedication and pride are pulled into sharp focus as his wife, Leimei’s, strength ebbs away.
The family is a victim of a devastating reality: during the 1990s the farmers and villagers of China’s poorest rural areas supplemented their hard-earned income by donating blood. This "easy" money came at the highest price: HIV/AIDS. In Wenlu, Henan Province, Central China, 60% of the villagers are infected, most living with full-blown AIDS. Offering no answers as the seasons unfold, the filmmaker sensitively reveals a very intimate human tragedy in a forgotten corner of the world.

- 2003 Selection Sundance Film Festival
- 2003 Selection International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)

Courtesy of TV 2 Denmark


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World Premičres

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Beneath the Stars 
South Africa/Sweden 2004 video 100min
Dir: Titti Johnson, Helgi Felixson

 

 

 

CT: Fri 23 / 8pm  Sat 31 / 7.45pm

JHB         :Sat 31 / 8pm   Thu 5 / 6.15pm

This is the world premiere of an engaging and remarkable approach to a social problem that exists in our midst, and is judged harshly, even feared, but little understood. In 2003, Freda Darvel was a 19-year-old street kid that sniffed glue with her boyfriend Boeta Claassen. But she can sing, and she is plucked from the streets by the Coca Cola Popstars competition. Freda is immediately elevated to national stardom with everyone wanting her to sing, in restaurants, on planes, in shops. Once the competition is over, Freda returns to the harsh "normal" life of the streets. The film subtly displays Freda’s emotional attachment to her friends and surroundings, and how she becomes the celebrity pawn. But nothing changes until, frustrated, the filmmakers offer her a real chance. 

Courtesy of the Directors


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Born into Struggle 
South Africa 2004 video 80min
Dir: Rehad Desai

 

 

 

 

CT: Thu 22 / 8.15pm

JHB: Fri 6 / 7.45pm

This is a brutally honest and deeply personal portrait of the painful familial scars left behind by a key member of the Struggle. Set against a much larger political backdrop, this intimate detail explores the reasons behind, and consequences of, life choices. Rehad Desai spent most of his life in exile due to his father’s constant political activity. Instrumental in stalwartly maintaining international pressure on South Africa’s Apartheid regime, Barney Desai was a hero to many but a strict, distant authority figure to his family. A disparity reflected in the careers chosen by Rehad and his siblings. 
This absorbing story is centred on the personal development of Rehad that leads to intense political activity in the UK, Zimbabwe and then, while accompanying his father in 1990, South Africa; thus repeating the cycle.

Courtesy of Uhuru Productions


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South African Love Story - 
Walter and Albertina Sisulu 

South Africa 2004 video 63min 
Dir: Toni Strasburg

 

 

 

CT: Sat 24 / 8.30pm  Tue 27 / 8pm 
Fri 30 / 8pm

JHB: Sat 31 / 7.30pm   Sun 8 / 6.15pm

This touching story of the Sisulus is not just a testament to the political endurance of one of South Africa’s most celebrated couples. It is a personal story of bitter struggle, harassment, and painful separation endured through the patience, hope, moral courage, and love of the Sisulus. It reflects a very private history that is integral to the political turmoil of South Africa in the 20th-century, showing the deep personal cost that brought South Africa to its current triumphant harmony. Chronologically this documentary starts at the very beginning, and charts the growth of their love and respect for each other, their community, the people, and humanity. It offers a human perspective on some of the key moments in a resistance that sowed the seeds of this nation.

Courtesy of XOXA/Realtime Pictures


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