The DFA was established in 2007 to promote and protect the interests of doc filmmakers in South Africa. To contact the DFA, please use the contact form: here . The DFA website is at: Membership applications can be made through the website here.

25 February 2008


Cape Town-based Don Edkins (pictured above) of Steps For The Future and Day Zero Film Productions is executive producer on the inspired Why Democracy? project comprising of ten one-hour films and 18 short films. These films focus on issues relevant to contemporary democracy and are broadcast internationally. This week, the Why Democracy? film "Taxi to the Dark Side" won the Academy Award for best documentary. This is an extraordinary achievement for filmmaker Alex Gibney (pictured below) as well as Don and the Why Democracy? team. The DFA would like to extend its warmest congratulations to Don - viva! You have done South Africa, and our filmmaking community, proud.

Alex Gibney_Oscar

ABOUT THIS FILM (courtesy of the Why Democracy? site):
Over one hundred prisoners have died in suspicious circumstances in U.S. custody during the "war on terror". Taxi to the Dark Side takes an in-depth look at one case: an Afghan taxi driver called Dilawar who was considered an honest and kind man by the people of his rustic village. So when he was detained by the U.S military one afternoon, after picking up three passengers, denizens wondered why this man was randomly chosen to be held in prison, and, especially, without trial? Five days after his arrest Dilawar died in his Bagram prison cell. His death came within a week of another death of a detainee at Bagram. The conclusion, with autopsy evidence, was that the former taxi driver and the detainee who passed away before him, had died due to sustained injuries inflicted at the prison by U.S. soldiers. The documentary, by award-winning producer Alex Gibney, carefully develops the last weeks of Dilawar’s life and shows how decisions taken at the pinnacle of power in the Bush Administration led directly to Dilawar’s brutal death. The film documents how Rumsfeld, together with the White House legal team, were able to convince Congress to approve the use of torture against prisoners of war. Taxi to the Dark Side is the definitive exploration of the introduction of torture as an interrogation technique in U.S. facilities, and the role played by key figures of the Bush Administration in the process.

To read more about Taxi to the Dark Side, please visit the film's website

Discovery Channel dropped the documentary due to concerns that it was "too controversial" as the film investigates the most egregious abuses associated with the so-called "war on terror". Alex Gibney discusses his film, below:

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2



Oscar winner Alex Gibney will be guest of honour and will deliver a keynote speech, “The Power of Documentary”, at MIPDOC 2008, the international showcase for documentary screenings, 5 – 6 April 2008. Gibney will also MC the 2008 Trailblazers Awards, where he will award the five global innovative and creative directors selected this year, which includes South African documentary director and DFA member Karin Slater (pictured below).


Chosen for their innovative and pioneering work, the five MIPDOC Trailblazers of 2008 are: Rea Apostolides, producer (Greece); Bon Hwan Ku, director (South Korea); Yufuko Kuroda, director (Japan); Daniel Cross, director, producer and executive producer (Canada); and Karin Slater, director (South Africa).

They were selected by a global jury of reputed international documentary associations and festivals, including Documentary Organisation of Canada, European Documentary Network (EDN, Denmark), Encounters Documentary Festival (South Africa), EBS International Documentary Festival (EIDF, South Korea) and the association of All Japan TV Programs (ATP).

The third MIPDOC International Trailblazers is also partners with the Sundance Channel, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and the Korean Broadcasting Institute (KBI).

“MIPDOC's vitality is driven by the creative and innovative professionals that network together from all across the documentary world. As the world's largest screening event for the Documentary genre, MIPDOC gives these programmes and, indeed, all doc projects a chance to shine,” says Paul Johnson, television division director of Reed MIDEM.

For more information, please visit:


In November 2007 MNet’s Carte Blanche broadcast "Uranium Road", a documentary attempting to stimulate debate on our energy future. The documentary invoked the ire of the nuclear industry and a complaint was lodged with the BCCSA. A hearing was scheduled for February 20th 2008. The following riposte from Ingela Richardson appeared on the website of the Environment South Africa Forum :


Many South Africans have been extremely pleased that Carte Blanche has had the courage to screen a documentary like "Uranium Road" which for once shows the destructive side of the nuclear process.

Unfortunately, since the nuclear industry has had millions of taxpayers' rands in support from government, they have also dominated the pro-nuclear lobby and those who are opposed to nuclear - perhaps most especially the more disadvantaged communities that are sited close to nuclear reactors - often have had no opportunity to express their grievances.

Engineers who design nuclear power stations would never want their work questioned. They would never want to think they could be responsible for contamination of water supplies, or radioactive accidents, or even contemplate the possibility of smuggling of nuclear parts on the "black market". Unfortunately, all of the above have happened. Sellafield in the UK is an example of leaks from a nuclear reactor, the people of Hicksville in the US are suing due to radioactive-contaminated soils and cancers in their community and the people of Oyster Bay in the US found that heating of coastal waters by the nearby reactor caused fish to die off in multitudes.

There is also the mining of uranium that feeds reactors - which pro-nuclear lobbyists do not like to discuss. There is a reason why the Navajo people of the United States have legally forbidden any further uranium mining on their lands - too many of their people have succumbed to cancers caused by the deadly radon dust that blew into homes and leached into water sources and soaked into the soil.

In Canada, primary cancers are recognized as an occupational health hazard of uranium mining - but most South African uranium mine workers may not be aware of this, or awarded the same kinds of compensation if they develop cancers. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah in the United States was responsible for increasing compensation figures to those victims who developed cancers due to uranium mining. But of course money does not replace the loss of a loved one - be it a breadwinner or children - who have been most susceptible to leukaemias from uranium mine dusts.

Aside from health costs, there are the extreme costs of decommissioning uranium mines. It is virtually impossible to rehabilitate an area once uranium has leached into water sources - flowing through rivers and into dams - and settled in vegetation and soils. As with Chernobyl, the area remains contaminated for a very long period of time and it is very difficult to calculate the numbers of people who get cancers from radioactive pollutants in this way.

If this were not bad enough, the United States war on Iraq has proved the devastating effects of Depleted Uranium - not only on "the enemy" but all civilians for a very long time to come. Photographs of babies horribly deformed by DU would shock South African audiences - probably into never even considering a nuclear option. It is no longer necessary for terrorists to use plutonium to create "weapons of mass destruction". They need only use DU to create havoc that destroys the fertility of an area and its ability to produce food, as well as the fertility of the people - basically a genocide since the uranium targets the human reproductive system and deforms DNA.

Jenny Hunter's documentary "Uranium Road" was by these standards, quite innocuous. If the South African people knew the true threat of a nuclear programme - not only from uranium cancers, but also from the spread of nuclear terrorism - they would understand why the association of atomic scientists have themselves put the Doomsday Clock forward. A nuclear programme that involves export of uranium and reactors to countries like Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Rwanda etc? It does not take much imagination to realize the full impact of what this means in terms of basic security. There is a reason why North Korea is being "assisted" to dismantle its nuclear reactor - it is a very short step from a civil programme to a weapons programme.

I truly hope that South Africans will be shown more of the truth on Carte Blanche, and not subjected to cover-ups and plain propaganda that has been the order of the day from the pro-nuclear faction thus far.

Yours faithfully


Then, on February 19th 2008, one day before the schedule BCCSA hearing, this notice appeared on the Environment South Africa Forum by Jenny Hunter who had worked on the film:

Hi all,

The BCCSA informed me this morning that a settlement was reached between the complainants and M-net last night so there will be no hearing tomorrow. Apparently she spoke to the NIASA people this morning and they said they were satisfied with the settlement that had been reached - I am fascinated to know what it was and I think we are being cheated out of hearing NIASA put their case in public.

I think it is important for us to find out what the settlement involved is, as I suspect it will be all hushed up to avoid any more publicity ( - the publicity has been fantastic - its been on 702/ Cape Talk, the Cape Times, many websites such as Urbanspout and,etc ) - thanks to everybody for everything they have done. I am sure all the letters to the BCCSA put NIASA off having to go public. It is just a pity we did not get an opportunity to hear them out in the open - more secrecy... Maybe any one of you with press contacts should ask the press to find out what they can. In fact maybe it is grounds for another press release.

Please circulate the info about the hearing being cancelled to as many people as possible to avoid people making a fruitless trip there.

Thanks so much
Jenny Hunter

Has there been a hush-up? We will contact Jenny and let you know …


The DFA is launching "First Wednesday" documentary nights in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The next screening will take place on Wednesday 5th March 2008. Given that March commemorates Human Rights Day, we would like there to be a thematic tie-in. At the moment, we will be showing a documentary by DFA member Miki Redelinghuys on forced removals in District Six as well as an 8 minute trailer for DFA member David Forbes' documentary on the Craddock Four.

So anyone with a work in progress or a completed film film on a human rights theme that could meet this schedule, please do submit. We can screen on DV, DVCAM, or DVD.

The time and venue of the screenings will be posted soon!

Should We Do It?

In honour of Valentine's Day, on February 18th 2008 the DFA held a screening of a work in progress by documentary filmmakers Karin Slater and Steven Bartlo, titled 'Should We Do It':

"Feeling that marriage is one subject for which people are poorly prepared by most societies, a filmmaker couple set out around the world to have an honest look at marriage far beyond the honeymoon and the "...happily ever after" cliches. Only then do they decide whether or not to take the giant step themselves. "

The screening was held at the House of Nsako, 101 High Street, Brixton, Johannesburg.


.Venda -Tshisahulu Village_Girls3_Feb16th2008

If you are a child aged 6-18 years, live in Africa, and have made any moving image (film, video, television programme, computer game, animated photographs, etc), then Kids for Kids Africa invite your film to Nairobi, Kenya.

If you are an audiovisual media trainer or teacher working with children and youth in any part of Africa, or if you are a parent in Africa and know any child who has made a film, Kids for Kids Africa would like you to assist such children in submitting their creations to its 2nd all-Africa competition in Nairobi, Kenya.

If you are a member of the public who knows of any child or youth in Africa who has made a film, please contact Kids for Kids Africa with the information so such filmmakers may be invited to submit their work to Nairobi.

Please pass on this announcement to your family, friends, colleagues and contacts with a request that they pass it on to any one likely to benefit from it.

Kids for Kids Africa is calling for films made by children resident in any part of Africa.

First held in Johannesburg, South Africa in March 2007, the 2nd Kids for Kids Africa festival will be held in the framework of Lola Kenya Screen in Nairobi, Kenya (August 4-9, 2008).

Eligible films are those made by African children or children residing in any part of the 53-nation African continent.

All kinds of moving images--animation, experimental, documentary, fiction--will be considered. Any film in a language other than English must be sub-titled in English. All entries will be received, processed, assessed and awarded by a film selection committee and jury comprising children selected by Lola Kenya
Screen. Winning entries will represent Africa at Kids for Kids international festival later in 2008.

The 2nd Kids for Kids Africa festival is organised by Lola Kenya Screen, International Centre of Films for Children and Youth, and Children's Broadcasting Foundation for Africa.

The DEADLINE for receiving entries is April 15, 2008.

Films are submitted to:
Lola Kenya Screen
Philadelphia (Old East) Hse, 4th Fl
Tom Mboya St/ Hakati Rd junction
Tel 254 20 315258, 254 20 2213318, 254 733 703374
P O Box 20775-00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya (EA)

The film entry form and regulations are online at



From Texas, USA comes this inspiring project:

"The Mobile Film School’s filmmaking workshops provide instruction in story development, digital camera operation, video editing, lighting, and recording. By the end of each course, students will have produced one short documentary film. Students are encouraged to try a little of everything but have the opportunity to focus on specific areas of interest – such as directing or editing – paving the way for future education and employment opportunities. Equipment and study materials are provided to workshop participants, and all meals are served on-site. This allows students and teachers quality time to discuss the film projects and develop strong bonds that encourage them to stay in contact upon completion of the program.

The Del Valle workshop will be the MFS’s third in the Central Texas area. Later this year, the nonprofit plans to expand to other areas of the state, offering programs nationwide by 2009.

As digital technology plays an increasingly influential role in our global society, MFS believes young people must be media literate if they are to achieve success in today's marketplace. MFS strives to narrow the digital divide in lower income communities and rural North America by increasing access to the art and technology of filmmaking. The effect of MFS’ workshops on students’ self-esteem is life-changing and uplifting.

Recently recognized as Movie Maker Magazine's "Film School of the Week," MFS is a highly collaborative, multi-disciplined film and video arts program. The school is administered and led by industry professionals and offers a wide variety of creative and technology-based programming. MFS fosters future filmmakers who, frame by frame, contribute to the America’s rich cinematic and cultural tradition."

To find out more about this wonderful project, visit the website:

Or contact:
Lisa McWilliams
MFS Executive Director and Founder
Mobile Film School
+1 (512) 906-2420



This week sees The Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Festival highlights include:

Made In Jamaica
Directed by Jerome Laperrousaz, Jamaica/France/US
This thrilling musical documentary presents an overview of the reggae music movement from past and present. Touching on issues including ghetto violence; the history of slavery and colonization; the legacy of Bob Marley; the Rasta movement; and sex, women, and their role in reggae, Made in Jamaica explores the multifaceted reality of reggae music. Features interviews and performances with artists Capleton, Elephant Man, Bunny Wailer, Toots & the Maytals, Bounty Killer, Gregory Isaacs, Tanya Stephens, Beres Hammond, and more.

Iron Ladies Of Liberia
Directed by Siatta Scott Johnson and Daniel Junge, US
After nearly two decades of civil war, Liberia is a nation ready for change. Follow Liberia’s newly elected president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first freely elected female head of state in Africa, and other extraordinary women she placed in leadership positions, as they strive to improve the daily life of their people, renegotiate the debt, face internal corruption, and multiple other social, economic and political crises during their first year in office.

Youssou N'Dour: Return to Goree
Directed by Pierre-Yves Borgeaud, Senegal/Luxembourg/Switzerland
Youssou N’Dour, the internationally renowned Senegalese singer, gives a Jazz concert on the island of Gorée in honor of those who started their journey in life as slaves in the New World and created, against all odds, one of the most important and celebrated musical expressions in the world.


The Bird's Eye View Festival takes place in London, UK in March 2008. Providing a varied cross-section of genres, subjects and styles, the festival is a showcase for contemporary films created by women filmmakers. Please visit the festival website for more details.


June 5th, 2008 - June 10th, 2008
Palermo, ITALY

This year, the topic of the festival: "the environment", seen from all its facets. The aim of the festival is to intensify and promote the cinematographic and documentary production having as topics the relationship man-environment, the safeguard of the territory, the human rights, the felling of forests, the relationships with the city and new technologies, the radioactive tests in the several worlds’area, the eco-sustainable development, how the concept of environment in rich countries differs from that belonging to poor countries, but also mere descriptions of meaningful environmental areas, and all the productions concerning any aspect of environment and nature.

Works from any country, realized from 2006 to 2008, can take part in the EcoVision Festival 2008, having as topic the object of the Festival: the “environment”, considered both as natural and cultural environment, with all questions correlated with them. The Festival will consider as a preferential title, the unpublished films presented.

It is possible to download the new regulations and the entry form in the Download section in the menu. Please send all the indispensable materials, as indicated in the regulations.
final submission deadline: March 14th, 2008

For more information you can contact: EcoVision c/o DoC Via Francesco Bentivegna, 55/57 90139 PALERMO Tel. +39/091/33256 Fax +39/091/324397 E-Mail Headship: E-Mail Secretary:




In late 2007, Michael Chanan released 'The Politics of the Documentary' through BFI Publishing:

"When the film‐maker Morgan Spurlock told an American festival audience ‘we live in a world where independent documentary film has truly become the last bastion of free speech’ he won a round of applause from the packed house. Michael Chanan’s wide‐ranging and illuminating study of international documentary film‐making re‐ reads its complex history and present flourishing from the perspective of this fundamentally democratic aim.

This book traces the history of the documentary from the first Lumiere films to Grierson and his contemporaries, through to Free Cinema, Cinema Verite and Direct Cinema, up to the current resurgence documentary with high profile films such as those of Michael Moore. The book’s thematic approach takes in topics such as the documentary before documentary, how documentary film language works, the veracity of the image, the construction of the soundtrack; the migration of documentary to television, political documentary, censorship, first‐ person film‐making, and the relation of the archives to history and memory. Drawing on examples of documentary cinema in Japan, Iran and Latin America as well as Europe and the USA, Chanan argues that documentary provides a crucial public space in which ideas are debated, opinion is formed and those in authority are held to account."

The book can be bought on-line from the BFI .

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