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.

13 June 2008


A year has passed since the inception of the DFA. There is much to celebrate and many milestones still to achieve.

As paid-up members of the DFA we invite you to participate in the Annual General Meeting that will take place on THURSDAY 19TH JUNE 2008 from 14H00 to 17H00. At this AGM we will engage in a 3-way skype conversation to link all participants. The venues are as follows:

Runway Film Resource Centre
Waterfront Studios
2 Port Road
V&A Waterfront

To be confirmed.

Underdog Productions
92, 3rd Avenue

If you have enquiries, please email:

11 June 2008




The Fundamentals Training Centre in Cape Town will be running a range of short courses that have been developed to be completely relevant and practical to the local film and television industry. Knowledge and skills acquired on these courses can be immediately applied to the working world.

PROPOSAL WRITING (Cost: R900) 3 days
Over 3 sessions of group and individual work, attendees will be guided through the whole proposal writing process from idea to concept to fully worked up document.
Dates: 23, 25, 27 June OR 3, 4, 7 July 2008

RESEARCH FOR TV (Cost: R600) 2 days
Many aspirant filmmakers join the industry as researchers, but few understand what the job is all about. On this course attendees will learn what it takes to be a great TV researcher and learn skills that they can use throughout their career.
Dates: 15, 17 July 2008

A highly practical course, focusing mainly on production management and co-ordination systems for those working on features, drama series and commercials. It will also be relevant for those who wish to sharpen their skills for tv work.
Dates: 25 -29 July 2008

ASSISTANT DIRECTING (Cost: R1500) 5 days
Learn the skills and knowledge required to be a second assistant director - script breakdowns, call sheets, scheduling as well as on-set work and the required people skills.

If you are interested in attending please email Jemima Spring:, or contact FTC directly on 021 421 8577 or

The Fundamentals Training Centre
5th Floor, 50-On-Long,
Cnr Long and Hout Street,
Cape Town



JOINING THE DOTS TV is a completely new documentary channel. It uses the power of broadband to bring the world’s most interesting documentaries on-demand, direct to you.

The following is extracted from the Joining the Dots TV site:

We don’t believe that the world divides into discrete islands of knowledge. We think that you need to join the dots to get a full picture. Whatever you’re interested in finding out more about, politics, culture, war, art, the way we live today, the way others live, you can start to fit the jigsaw together here.

Arranged into strands, rather than bland genres, treat us as you would a documentary film festival and stick around when the director stands up at the front of the cinema to ask for questions (in our regular Q&A sessions). Or think of us as a really good dinner party - the films will tell you something you never knew about the world, but we also hope they’ll act like the press-cutting your best friend’s boyfriend brought out to prove, before you’ve finished your starters, that George W Bush is the best president the US has ever seen (he’ll be patiently listening to your spirited replies in our Forums, coming soon).

We will be adding between 5 and 10 new titles per month. One of these titles will be specially selected for a UK nation-wide theatrical release through our alliance with Picture Houses, Britain’s leading Art House Cinema Chain. We already have our first Oscar winning title scheduled for release June 2008.

We’re also documentary lovers, just like you. So if you think our personal foibles are too present in the site, that our categorisation is a mess or just that you like what you see and want more of the same, let us know. Drop Jason a line to - – and let him know your thoughts.


Before you submit programmes for consideration, please ensure:

• You own the relevant rights for the documentary and are legally permitted to enter into an agreement licensing them to us to show in most territories. Don’t worry if you can’t licence the film world-wide as we can geo-filter out territories where it can’t be seen.
• All video and music is cleared to enable you to show the documentary in a broadband environment for a minimum of one year.
• You can provide a DVD or a digibeta copy of the programme that we can encode and upload to our site.
• Your film will fit into one of our strands: Life And Death; Another World; Our New Society; Future Of Change; Forgotten History; A Different Love; The New Politics; Hidden Lives.
• Your film has a point of view, a narrative thread, and is accessible.
We work non-exclusively, which allows you to place your production on similar sites and our geo-filtering technology provides flexibility in the exploitation of your film. If your documentary is chosen, we will pay you a royalty of the net receipts we receive.

To submit a documentary, please send an email with a synopsis of the film to He will get straight back to you. Alternatively call Jason McGeown on: 00 44 20 7221 7221

films to watch



The Unwinking Gaze offers a unique, behind-the-scenes insight into the recent working life of Tibet’s would-be saviour and revered world icon the Dalai Lama.

This documentary was filmed over a period of three years with exceptional access showing the daily agonies of the Tibetan leader as he tries to strike a balance between his Buddhist vows and the realpolitik needed to placate China. David and Goliath is played out in front of us as the world’s emerging superpower and the Dalai Lama walk a tightrope over an issue of global importance.

The Unwinking Gaze is not 3 years in the life of the Dalai. It is his life’s work in 3 years. This film takes you inside the Titanic struggle of one of the great spiritual and political figures of our time, as he tries to lead his people to a peaceful resolution with China.


Joshua Dugdale, director of the film, explains his motivation:

I had seen a number of films on the Dalai Lama, but I felt they didn’t show who he really was. It seemed that he was being wheeled out for the cameras, for stage managed set pieces. Knowing that the rhetoric from Beijing claimed that the Dalai Lama was a canny political operator, intent on conning the West into backing his efforts to split off Tibet and weaken China, I wondered whether there was a way of showing his actions and reactions on camera. I hoped to be able to reveal his true intentions and character and I wanted to create a film, which would show the real world of the ‘splittist’ Dalai Lama so that those in power in Beijing might be able to make more informed decisions about how they deal with him. With such an enigmatic figure, the only way to achieve this was to treat him like any other politician, showing the world he inhabits and the challenges he faces. The result is extraordinarily rare access into the world of one of the great spiritual leaders of our time.


Q: Is the Dalai Lama sincere?

A: You need to watch the film to make up your own mind on this. The Dalai Lama has said in public that he doesn’t want independence over one hundred times, including reiterating it every year since 1987 in his annual March 10th Statement. However the Chinese believe that this is just a plot to enable him to return before permitting his people to declare independence. Many Tibetan exiles do want independence (see and, it could be argued allow the hard-line members of the Chinese in government to argue that independence is the end game of the Dalai Lama. As to whether he is a potential partner for the Chinese, the one thing you can say is that despite being very unsuccessful in his strategy, he still has unswerving support among his people. If any Tibetan can bring the people in line, it is the Dalai Lama.

Q: How important is the Dalai Lama to China?

A: There can be little doubt that the Dalai Lama is a very significant figure not just in Tibet. There are believed to be more than 100m Buddhists in China, all of whom would have great respect for the Dalai Lama. There also seems to be a growing demand for spirituality generally in China, which coming from a low base after the Culutral Revolution, would mean that the Dalai Lama would automatically become the main religious and spiritual leader in China. It is this, which has historically been one of the key reasons for the Chinese government’s fear that there will be sources outside of the Communist party, which will be difficult to control. A classic example is the persecution not only of the Tibetan Buddhists but also of Falung Gong. Whether the Dalai Lama would have a positive or negative effect to China is an interesting question. Understanding his core values it would be hard to imagine how his presence would have a negative effect for China. Whether the same could be said about his effect on the Communist party is a different question.

Q: What can both sides do to move the talks on?

A: The first step would be to publicly acknowledge that there is a dialogue. In order for the process to move forward, a framework needs to be created for discussions. The Chinese government would therefore have to come forward and say publicly that there is an issue, which needs to be resolved. Currently they refuse to acknowledge that there is any issue worthy of discussion. However as news pours out of Tibet under the current civil unrest, news media in China has acknowledged what is going on (see There is a great deal of uncertainty as a result but it will be hard for the government to deny that there is an issue. The Dalai Lama’s envoys are currently considered to be ‘tourists’, and the Dalai Lama is still a ‘Splittist’ who is continuously engaging in activities aimed at weakening China. These public pronouncements would need to change.

Q: Post Dalai Lama - What will happen if the Dalai Lama dies in exile?

A: Again practically, the political leadership and cabinet – the Kashag and the Prime Minister, will take the lead role in deciding policy. There will automatically be a vacuum if the current Dalai Lama says he is going to reincarnate, however there are others who will step into the role. The likelihood is that there will be considerable fragmentation and instability as a result of his death which could result in firstly a weaker Tibetan Freedom Movement (not Independence Movement) but more likely to be some fringe radical groups who will start to think about changing their allegiance to non-violence. The Chinese may decide to repeat the Panchen Lama strategy of imprisoning the Tibetan chosen reincarnation of the Panchen Lama and impose their own choice. This is unlikely to unite the Tibetan population behind their rule and will almost certainly decrease their legitimacy.

Q: How effective are the West in allying to his cause?

A: Ostensibly not much. Most western powers are in thrall to the Chinese due to the size of the market in China, so China is in a very strong position economically and politically. Their role on the UN and the importance of keeping them on side for issues that have been higher up the international agenda such as Darfur or the Middle East, means that Tibet, for almost 20 years has never been a deal breaker when it comes to relations with the West. However up until now there has been a continuous drip, drip of pressure which causes embarrassment to the Chinese and will always be a thorn in their attempts to be seen as the legitimate government in Tibet.

Q: What is the Dalai Lama's legacy?

A: The Dalai Lama is one of the great figures of the 20th and 21st Century. He has won the Nobel Peace Prize and countless other awards. He has sold books to an international audience and sells out in stadiums across the world who seek to benefit from his teachings. On his watch, he has presided over a significant increase in the practice of Buddhism globally over a century when religious practice in China, the largest Buddhist country in the world has been subject to substantial persecution. He has also been the global face of the Non-Violence movement, which in itself is an extraordinary legacy. However in terms of his success over achieving a negotiated settlement over his homeland of Tibet, he has up until this point failed in his key objectives.

Q: The Olympics - Should the Chinese invite him without conditions?

A: This is a key question that we are asking as a result of the film. Some believe that the Dalai Lama attending the Olympics would be a PR coup for the Chinese and would mean that they would continue to do nothing after the Olympics. Others believe that it would be a necessary pre-condition to showing a softening in the position of the Chinese towards the Dalai Lama, paving the way for meaningful discussion post Olympics. No matter what, it would be an extraordinary moment that would be difficult for the Dalai Lama to turn down. See the Dalai Lama’s March the 10th Statement for the up-to-date position of the Dalai Lama on the Olympics.

To read more about The Unwinking Gaze, visit the film's website.

films to watch




Wearing the One Button Suit is a glimpse at the somewhat hidden and defiantly hardy Scottish naturist scene. Filming involved over forty naturists from various clubs, but focuses mainly on four very different characters who tell their personal experiences. There's Donald, the hardy loch skinny-dipper; Paul, the cheeky chappie who is always up for a laugh; Maitland, the single naturist hoping to find love; and Jinty, the rough diamond who tells it to you straight. The aim is to show these naturists in a straightforward light. They are just normal folk who enjoy going to barbeques, playing volleyball and hosting dinner parties, the only difference is that they prefer to do their socialising in the nude. This is an entertaining documentary which at long last allows naturists an unprejudiced forum to talk freely about their passion. It also shows the fun you can have whilst wearing the one button suit.

What could possibly induce a Scot to brave the cold and strip off outdoors? The answer in this documentary seems to be the same things that make anyone become a naturist. We meet a group of characters who enjoy their bodies and aren't afraid to go around without clothes, and can't understand why anyone could mind. Refreshing, fun and kind-hearted.

To watch the full documentary, go to Joining The Dots TV

10 June 2008



10th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival

19–29 June 2008

Cape Town
3–13 July 2008

The ENCOUNTERS screening schedules and inventory of films are now on-line. Please go here for more info.

Encounters Music Strand

Music is a constant companion to human endeavour and exists everywhere a person would give voice to his/her spirit. Whether we are working, playing, or fighting, celebrating life, or mourning, there is music that expresses how we feel and accompanies us in our efforts. Like in previous years, Encounters looks at different genres of music, ranging from Hip Hop in Cameroon and South Africa, to classical music, takes its audience to post-war Manchester, that inspired the lads that would become famous as Joy Division, showcases specific instruments such as the Mbira in Zimbabwe and observes the making of a very special instrument, a Steinway grand piano.

Joy Division UK 2007 96min Dir: Grant Gee
35 yeas ago Manchester was a desolate place, its children fodder to spewing factories, but from that urban wasteland four friends emerged to form a band that changed the landscape of modern music. Joy Division shows how, inspired by lead-singer Ian Curtis, this seminal group evolved beyond the rage expressed in their punk-rock roots through their need to decry the horror they saw in the city around them. Despite Curtis‚s premature death, some say that modern Manchester ˆ a breeding ground of musicians - could not have become what it is without their influence.
Courtesy of the British Council.

Note by Note: The making of Steinway L1037
USA 2007 90min Dir: Ben Niles

Pianos are like humans, each has a unique voice. Not surprisingly, every accomplished pianist is yearning to find and play the one piano that sings at their touch. And though each piano may be different there is only one piano that a pianist desires ˆ a Steinway. Recognized as the pre-eminent piano manufacturers in the world, in Note by Note the audience is drawn into the world of specialist artisans and world-renowned pianists by bearing witness to the yearlong creation of a Steinway Concert Grand. It‚s a nail-biting process as we wait to see if L1037 will make the grade.

The Encounter Cameroon 2008 26min Dir: Cyrille Masso
Cameroon is a tough place to be if you want to be a female, English-speaking Hip Hop star! Despite staggering raw talent, you might find that poverty and lack of resources present a daunting obstacle. In The Encounter, Cathy Lyonga aka Krucial Kate is able to overcome the difficulties when she fortuitously meets a visiting Japanese anthropology student and Hip Hop music enthusiast, who helps her work towards her dream.
Cyrille Masso is a guest of the Festival courtesy of Africalia.

Encounters Africa Shorts and Student Focus
Other must-see short African films for lovers of music are Mbira‚ My Music My Love (Encounters Africa Shorts), which examines a clash between western music and traditional values in Zimbabwe and Kabelo Zeroid Xpress (Student Focus), a look at a local Hip Hop band inspired by current affairs and Islamic literature.

This festival is supported by:
SABC, NFVF, Cape Film Commission, Western Cape Government, Jan Vrijman/IDFA, Africalia, Gauteng Film Commission, Goethe Institut, French Embassy, Tempest, US Consulate, British Council, French Embassy, Holland Film, The Times, Nu Metro, Exclusive Books.

For further information please contact:
Nathalie Rosa Bucher
021 465 4686
0768 310 434



Local industry body,The Producers' Alliance has launched their own blog in which they detail their concerns regarding the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). TPA member Rehad Desai says: We have to ensure that our voices are heard in this public inquiry, the leadership need to pull together a paper which motivates very clearly why producers and their representative bodies are one the most important stakeholders - particularly so if we want to make a plurality and diversity of voice a reality on our screens.

Please go here to visit the TPA blog.




Documentary filmmaker Elena Varela López is being held in Rancagua Prison, central Chile (Complejo Penitenciario de Rancagua, sexta region). She is currently filming a documentary which she has been researching for the last four years, on the conflict between lumber companies and Chile's Mapuche Indigenous people, over the use of land. Amnesty International believes that the authorities have arrested her in an attempt to halt investigations into this conflict and in an attempt to intimidate her and the Mapuche Indigenous people.

Elena Varela López was arrested on 7 May by police at her home in the Novena region, approximately 620km south of where she is being held. She has been charged with "illegal association with intent to commit an offence" (asociación ilícita para delinquir).

Police confiscated equipment from Elena Varela López's home, including videotapes, sound equipment, stills cameras and mobile phones, and costumes needed for the filming of the documentary. In addition, the arresting officers also took the research she had done, and documents relating to the funding of the film by the government agency, the National Audiovisual Fund (Fondo de Formento Audiovisual del Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes). Amnesty International fears that this information could be used by Chilean security forces to intimidate and harass Mapuche activists and those who contributed their opinions to the research.

Since March 2008, the authorities have arrested three documentary makers who have spoken out against the conflict between lumber companies and the Mapuche people.


The Mapuche community is recognised as one of the indigenous peoples of Chile under Chile’s 1993 Indigenous People’s Act. The Act states that the indigenous peoples in Chile are "the descendants of human groups that have existed in national territory since pre-Colombian times and that have preserved their own forms of ethnic and cultural expression, the land being the principal foundation of their existence and culture".

Use of land is at the heart of the conflict between the Mapuche Indigenous people and the Chilean government, which has been ongoing for over a decade. In 2003 the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples submitted a report following a mission to Chile in which he stated within his recommendations that “In addition to the granting of title for private pieces of land, traditional communal indigenous territories containing resources for communal use should be reclaimed and re-established.”

Amnesty International has reported ill-treatment and harassment of the Mapuche by Chilean police (Carabineros) and has publicly criticised the Chilean authorities for using anti-terrorism law against Indigenous community members fighting for their human rights and fundamental freedoms (see for example UA 121/06, AMR 22/001/2006, of 5 May 2006). In March 2008, the UN Committee on Human Rights expressed concern about the use of anti-terrorism legislation against members of the Mapuche community who had taken part in activities in support of Indigenous land rights. On 21 May 2008, Chile was elected as a member state to serve a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Council. As such Chile must demonstrate their commitment to uphold human rights both internationally and nationally and to fully cooperate with the Council.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:

- expressing concern that the arrest of Elena Varela López appears to be an attempt to intimidate her and other Mapuche activists;

- calling on the authorities to guarantee the safety of all Mapuche activists, and all those named in the research documents confiscated by police;

- noting the concern expressed by the UN Committee on Human Rights about the use of anti-terrorism legislation against members of the Mapuche community, and calling for Chile, as a newly-elected member of the UN Human Rights Council, to uphold human rights for all.


President of the Republic of Chile
Señora Presidenta de la República de Chile:
Sra. Michelle Bachelet
Presidencia de la Republica
Palacio de la Moneda
Fax: + 56 2 690 4958
Salutation: Señora Presidenta de la República de Chile

Minister of the Interior
Señor Ministro del Interior:
Sr. Edmundo Pérez Yoma
Ministerio del Interior
Palacio de la Moneda
Fax: + 56 2 699 2165
Salutation: Señor Ministro

Minister of Culture:
Sra. Paulina Urrutia Fernández
Señora Ministra Presidenta del Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes
Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes
Fray Camilo Henríquez 262,
Fax + 56 2 665 0803
Salutation: Señora Ministra


National Director of the National Indigenous Development Board (Conadi)
Señor Wilson Reyes Araya
Director Nacional de Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena - Conadi
Ahumada 48, piso 10
Fax: + 56 2 6721879

Ambassade de la République du Chili
Rue des Aduatiques 106,
1040 Bruxelles
Fax : 02.736.49.94
Fax : 02.736.83.26
Email :

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the Amnesty International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 15 July 2008. Contact the Amnesty International South African office here.

Please visit these links for further info:
I Save Lives - Amnesty
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation
Amnesty International: Chile




The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Secretariat (ACP Secretariat) launches a call for proposals financed by the ACP-EU cooperation support programme for the ACP cinema and audiovisual sectors, to support projects in the intra-ACP cinema and audiovisual fields, aiming at contributing to the development and structuring of the ACP States’ cinema and audiovisual industries, so that they can create and distribute their own images more effectively.

It also aims to enable more promotion of cultural diversity, the networking of ACP cultural identities and intercultural dialogue.

The current call for proposals will award grants to three types of Actions in the cinema and audiovisual fields:
- Production projects of cinema and audiovisual (television) works (Lot 1)
- Promotion, distribution, dissemination and networking of the cinema and audiovisual sector in the ACP States (Lot 2)
- Professional development and training of ACP professionals in the cinema and audiovisual sector projects (Lot 3)

The full GUIDELINES can be consulted below:

- The ACP FILMS Programme website.
- The ACP Secretariat website.
- The EuropeAid Calls for proposals and tenders website.