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.

19 September 2008



The Apollo Film Festival

Victoria West is a small dorp with not a mountain nor snow in sight. Blink and you might miss it and the small herd of sheep, lazily chomping the sparse vegetation on the never-ending road to Kimberley. There is nothing physical that prompts a comparison between this quiet village in the semi-desert of the Karoo and the bustling ski resort in Utah, USA. But without their respective film festivals, no one would have heard of either of these small little cultural gems.

At Sundance, they celebrate American independent films. At Apollo, they celebrate South Africa’s very latest fillums. For both Festivals a deep and abiding love of film and a dedication to exploring the profound visions of indie filmmakers has placed them firmly on the must-attend list of each country’s film-watching community. Nowhere else in South Africa can you literally immerse yourself in the delights and heartbreaks of the silver screen for an entire, uninterrupted long weekend.

Our very own Sundance is taking place in Victoria West at and around the beautiful Apollo Theatre (one of the country’s last remaining Art Deco cinemas still in use) from the 2nd to the 5th October 2008. This year, the annual celebration of South African cinema worships 9 features, 14 documentaries and 24 short films.

As an unfettered reflection of South Africa’s reality, the award-winning features in this year’s line-up reflect the contrasts of the South African experience – from the life-altering addiction of the slots in Confessions of a Gambler to being transformed from teen nerd to rugby hero in Bakgat. The downfall and ultimate redemption of one of the nation’s most respected figures is explored in Hansie, while the mean, gansta-packed streets of Hillbrow echoes throughout Jerusalema. In the period romantic drama, Land of Thirst, the timeless influence of the Karoo weaves its magic, whilst technological savvy and stunning artistry mix in South Africa’s first stop-frame animation feature, Tengers.

Opening the festival on Thursday, 2nd October is Triomf, the new offering from Michael Raeburn and, some would say, his tour de force. Set in 1994, five days after South Africa’s first democratic election, he introduces the world to the highly dysfunctional Benade family who live in the poor white suburb that was built on the ruins of the legendary Sophiatown. Unavoidably dark, but also very funny, Triomf relentlessly pursues the tensions and finds the subsequent humour in our collective past. Triomf is based on the award-winning novel (M-Net Prize, CAN Prize, Noma Prize) of the same name by Marlene van Niekerk.

Detailing the past and present is the irrepressible lens of the documentary filmmaker. Confronting all manner of universal issues, that include the imprint of war, the dream of marriage, and the separate pursuits of meaning, identity, fear, happiness, spirituality and yes, even sports, this year’s catalogue of documentaries catapults us into lives of the individual. Deep in the Karoo, we explore a love of lions in Daniel and our Cats, cement our identity in Inanda, My Heritage, and define the moment with a game of football on Robben Island in More Than Just a Game and examine the lasting psychological damage of the border war in Betrayed.

The directors and producers attending the festival to participate in the Q&A’s after the screenings include; Junaid Ahmed of More Than Just a Game, Frans Cronje of Hansie, Rina Jooste of Betrayed, Tendeka Matatu of Jerusalema, Asivhanzi ‘Asi’ Mathaba of Walk like A Man, Tiny Mungwe of Akekho Ugogo, Meg Rickards of Land of Thirst, Michael J. Rix of Tengers and Dylan Valley of Hip Hopera.

This year the enviable task of watching and judging all this talent falls on Tonight Senior film writer Theresa Smith, world renowned filmmaker Khalo Matabane, and award winning director/producer Bridget Pickering. The Apollo Film Festival is sponsored by the National Film and Video Foundation and implemented by the Encounters Documentary Film Festival, with the support of Apollo Theatre, Durban International Film Festival, Northern Cape Tourism, and the Tourism Enterprise Programme.

Get there by hook or by shepherd’s crook. However you do get there, it will be a long weekend worth the distance travelled in body, mind and soul.

Reggie Zamuxolo Khanzi
Festival Director
Cell: 082 583 4709

Mandisa Zitha
Tel: (021) 465 4686

Apollo Festival Hotline: 082 858 2015



After almost a month of cinema screenings across 4 cities, the 6th Annual Tri Continental Film Festival successfully concluded in Durban on the 11th of September 2008. This year’s festival reached new heights and continued to grow audiences for compelling cinema from the global South focussing on pressing human rights issues. Worthy of particular mention this year were the screenings of 9 short films completed over a two month period in the run up the festival’s opening in the mid-August, under the banner, Filmmakers Against Racism, (web and blog) commissioned by the Human Rights Media Trust examining the appalling xenophobic attacks that marred the South African landscape in May this year. These short films explored the motivation and social context behind these attacks, the lives of foreign nationals in the aftermath of these attacks, particularly under extremely harsh conditions in temporary refugee camps, the challenges of reintegration, and the inadequate response of public officials.

Each year the Tri Continental Film Festival runs an audience award for recognition of the festival’s outstanding film, outstanding South African film and outstanding short film. We wish to announce that 2008 Tri Continental Film Festival audience award for best film goes to Mick Davie’s The Choir. Filmed over 6 years, this inspirational documentary follows the life of young fellow Jabulani Shabangu as he joins the Leeukop prison choir thus beginning his journey towards self-redemption and eventual release from prison. Along this journey, the film introduces other inspirational personalities notably, Coleman Mgododlo, the choir master whose love and leadership to the juvenile offenders, not only leads these young men to victory in the annual inter-prison choir competition but teaches them invaluable life lessons for survival beyond South Africa’s prison walls. Controversial and emotionally charged, Davie’s The Choir was embraced by South African audiences and is a worthy winner on this year’s audience award for outstanding film.

In the category best South African film, the audience award this year goes to Tapologo, a South African and Spanish co-production directed by Gabriela & Sally Gutierrez Dewar which explores the impact of South Africa’s mining boom on the labour camps that support the industry and the often brutal realities facing woman in these communities. Freedom Park squatter camp, situated in the Northwest province, accommodates a migrant workforce that mines the world’s single largest source of platinum, and the women in the community service the needs of the male miners as a means of basic survival. A group of HIV-infected former sex-workers have created a network called Tapologo, and have learnt to be home based care-workers transforming degradation into solidarity and hope. This rare film provides a humanising and honest lens to the courageous work of community activists working under desperate conditions.

In the category of best short film, audiences chose Okepne Ojang, Kyle O’Donoghue and Miki Redlinghuys’ humorous and compelling Congo My Foot. Created as part of the Filmmakers Against Racism series, this 24 minute piece tells the story of Tino La Musica, a Congolese band based in Cape Town that is displaced and evicted from their homes at the time of the xenophobic attacks this past May. As narrated by Ojang, an immigrant to South Africa from Cameroon, the film shows the trauma facing foreign nations as they seek to piece their lives together and find future direction in the fall out of the xenophobic attacks. Tino La Musica’s uplifting rhythms and ultimate reunion provide an inspiration backdrop to the ethnic tensions that continue to simmer throughout the nation.

The festival wishes to thank all the filmmakers and particularly South African audiences for their tremendous support over the past month of screenings. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our cooperating partners. The Human Rights Media Trust, Lawyers for Human Rights, SACOD, The Mail and Guardian, Cinema Nouveau Screened by Fish Eagle, Breakthrough, Out of Frame, Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Encounters SA International Documentary Festival.

Finally, the festival would not have been possible without the support and partnership of the National Film and Video Foundation, SABC, Gauteng Film Office, Timberland, MNET, The Swedish Embassy, The Italian Cultural Institute, The Mexican Embassy and Spectrum Visual Networks.



Free screening of 'My Name is Joe' tonight at The Labia Theatre, Cape Town

Tonight there will be a free screening of Steven Ellis's 43 minute documentary My Name Is Joe (recently shown at the Durban Film Festival) 6:30 pm at the Labia Theater, Cape Town (68 Orange Street).

Jose is a hardworking, determined and affable young Congolese man. Fleeing home to preserve his security and perhaps his life, his travels lead him through various jobs: illegal diamond-mining, car-guarding, security and bar-work. In this cheery and engaging film, he talks us through his adventures as a refugee, showing the hard side of life in the beautiful city of Cape Town, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

15 September 2008


The Johannesburg DFA met with Ike Bertels about The Netherlands-based Docs Online initiative. Docs Online is a web-based video library providing Video On Demand content. It allows you to view preview clips on-line as well as down-load complete films for a subscription fee.

The site is advantageous for the following reasons:
*Docs Online will, at their own risk, arrange to courier video material on tape to and from SA.
*Docs Online will digitize the material and create the divex codec for displaying your film on their website.
*Docs Online will arrange for a central location in SA to which you may send your DVD preview screeners. The screeners will be watched and if the film is desirable, Docs Online will get in touch.
*Should your film be selected it is a non-exclusive deal. In other words, you may submit the same film to other on-line distributors and VOD portals.
*You will receive a log-in code and will be able to monitor your profits as people pay to download your film.
*You will receive 50% payment while Docs Online gets the other 50%.
*Docs Online will take it upon themselves to clear any music or archive material used in your film for on-line distribution on their site (a major plus given how onerous archive clearances can be!).
*The site is based in The Netherlands and while it is somewhat slow to up-load when viewing from SA the site reports high access in Europe.

The problems:
*At the moment, Docs Online will on pay money in Euros into a PayPal account. But the problem is that you can't get that money as cash out of your PayPal account and into your SA bank account. At the moment, SA foreign exchange control prevents this. So, this means that you would receive the money into your PayPal account and would then have to spend it on-line with another PayPal vendor.
*In order to submit a film to Docs Online you have to own the copyright. Given that many local filmmakers create work for the SABC this becomes tricky.

The way forward:
*In The Netherlands, Dutch filmmakers lobbied the public broadcaster and won the rights to distribute their work through on-line portals. The DFA would like to motivate that we do the same with regard to the SABC.


The British Documentary Film Guild has some useful standard contracts for you to download and adapt. Click here.

Standard release form: A standard, non-payment, release form for use with documentary subjects
Confidentiality Agreement: For times when you're dealing with sensitive information
Freelance Agreement: From director to composer, it's useful to keep everything in writing when money's involved
Location Agreement: You'll need this when filming on any private property not belonging to you
Sales Agent Agreement: This could be one of the most of important bits of paperwork you sign
Music Recording Licence: For the use of copyrighted music in your film


eco tube


Ecotube is a video sharing website specialising in content which advocates environmentalism. The website features user-submitted videos to raise awareness of environmental and political issues, to give tips on how to live an eco-friendly lifestyle and review eco-friendly products. The content consists of documentaries, animations and short films made by independent film makers.

The site is looking for documentaries, animations and any type of film on the themes of sustainable living, eco-activism, green politics or anything which will appeal their audience. Visit the site at here and see the range of videos already online, and upload films directly to the site.




Documentary Films Competition “Image of the World”

The competition is organized in collaboration with Discovery Networks Europe and aims to recognize documentary film as a creative interpretation of the reality. Putting an emphasis on the visual and aesthetic aspects of the work, the organizers evaluate the best achievements in the field of cinematography, awarding the authors of photography of the competitive documentary films. Only short and medium length documentary films between 20 and 60 minutes, constituting a self-contained whole, produced after the 1st of January 2006, can be submitted to the selection. However, shorter or longer films may be accepted for non-competitive special screenings.
Deadline: 5th of October 2008.
Please refer to the website for details here. The Director of the Festival invites recognised documentary film creators and other representatives of art and culture to constitute an international Jury.



A short film by Kali van der Merwe (10min)

W-hole is a journey into the hidden - the secret - the unexposed - the taboo. This film explores a very vulnerable, hidden and soft spot of the anatomy – the arsehole. The focus is on the male anus as a way to investigate male constructs around intimacy, shame, identity, sexuality and the ownership society creates around the body. Go see it if you dare...

Now showing at

Gay and Lesbian Film Festival 2008

CAPE TOWN - Nu Metro V&A Waterfront
Sunday 14 September - 8.15 pm
Thursday 18 September - 9 pm

Screening before and together with 'The Quest for the Missing Piece'
- a man in search of his foreskin - Israel (52 min)
Ticket prices R25
To book visit: or call 086 11 00 220


Jesus & the Giant

Studio 2
WSOA Film & TV Division
Wednesday 17th September 2008
5pm filmmaker in attendance

An experimental film set in Johannesburg.

Jesus is a special woman. Her eyes are windows on the world. She has powers she herself doesn’t understand but ultimately she is a warrior for peace. Then one day her friend Mary arrives at her doorstep, beaten. Jesus has to choose whether to continue to nurse Mary or take revenge on the deadly Giant.

Written by Aryan Kaganof and directed by Akin Omotoso
12 minutes / 2007

films to watch


USA, 2008, 88 mins

Like his father before him, Lance Larson is a treasure hunter. His current prospects are two World War II veterans who buried treasure after the war, one in Austria and the other in the Philippines. Despite the tremendous odds that stand against him, Larson is determined to find the elusive riches.

Darius Marder's haunting debut documentary parallels the epic search for loot with disarmingly powerful resurrections of the past. Prompted by Larson's curiosity, each veteran is gradually forced to face ghosts that have been locked away for 60 years. As their former lives materialize, they join together in an obsessive quest for closure, hoping to transform the present by resolving the past. Marder deftly keeps the metaphors as buried as the treasure while intimately charting the trio as they feed one another's delusions. The end of the rainbow reveals a depiction of humanity that is both philosophically profound and spiritually heart-wrenching.