Encounters South African International Documentary Festival last night (29 September) was honoured at the SAFTAs with the Outstanding Provincial Contributor Award, an honour given to an “individual, group or a particular initiative that has contributed significantly towards developing the film and television industry in a respective province”.

The citation from the SAFTAs read: “(Encounters) is an organisation with the objective to position itself as the official hub for the Pan-African documentary community and a pivotal platform for the documentary film industry in South Africa and the African continent. Initially established with the goal of hosting a Documentary Festival in South Africa, their influence and impact has since extended beyond national borders into Africa and the wider world. The organisation aims to enhance efficiency, secure sustainable funding, expand its reach, and empower documentary filmmakers to make a lasting impact.”

Tarha McKenzie Festival Manager in her acceptance speech said, “On behalf of the core team, our board, our partners, and dedicated audiences, I’d like to thank the SAFTAs for awarding and celebrating this remarkable Festival, I have had the privilege of working for nearly 10 years now.”

“Encounters has been around for 25 years, and in that time, it has gained a reputation for being the premier Festival on the continent. It’s something we worked hard for, and we are very proud of the fact that this Festival has huge respect on the global festival circuit. We are thrilled that the SAFTAs are honouring us this year with the Outstanding Provincial Contributor Award.”

Under the directorship of Mandisa Zitha, supported by a dedicated board and a team of highly skilled individuals, Encounters boasts an impressive legacy. Originating as the Encounters Swiss South African Documentary Film Festival in 1999, it has since flourished under the Encounters Training and Development Institute. Today, it stands as Africa’s foremost Documentary Festival, commemorating exceptional documentaries and fostering enlightening dialogues on vital and critical topics.

“Encounters’ success lies in the curation of programmes that resonate with local audiences,” says Director Mandisa Zitha. “We provide an important space for talented documentary filmmakers to showcase their works to the public and the media; as well as create opportunities for professional development and entry-level support for emerging filmmakers, as well as festival management and curation.”

Encounters currently attracts an annual audience of over 10,000 people over a 10-day event, prioritising the documentary genre, with a view of exploring a myriad of issues that affect society and the world in general. It aims to open a window into the world that highlights differences, connections, problems and solutions, while at the same time looking at expanding audience reach through this content, and a robust youth audience development programme.

Dates for next year’s festival are: 20th – 30th June 2024

For more information contact Joy Sapieka on joyls@mweb.co.za or +27 (0)73 212 5492.