Welcome to the Encounters Swiss South African Documentary Film Festival, the first of it's kind in South Africa. Documentaries in South Africa are generally associated with being viewed on television. Now this Festival allows these films to be screened in all their glory on the big screen, giving them the status that they deserve.

This is an exciting opportunity for Swiss and South African filmmakers to exchange ideas. Their films reflect their view of society. It is our pleasure to welcome so many filmmakers to this Festival and to have the opportunity to present them to the public. We are certain the audience will enjoy engaging with them.

We have a great line-up. From Switzerland come Alexander J. Seiler, Thomas Imbach and Richard Dindo. The Swiss have maintained an internationally acclaimed standard of auteur driven documentaries, many of which will be screened in South Africa for the first time at the festival. Among the internationally acclaimed South Africans at the Festival are Cliford Bestall, Liz Fish, Harriet Gavshon and Zola Maseko. There will be discussions after the screenings convened by Lesley Fordred and Gabeba Baderoon of the UCT Media and Society Seminar. These will involve the makers, the academics, the critics and you.

The Festival will premiere many films including World Premieres of Clifford Bestall's Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela - an intimate portrait, Main Reef Road by Nicolaas Hofmeyer, River of Memory by Craig Matthew and Joëlle Chesselet and One Day on the Path by Francesca Bartellini. Documentaries often take years to complete. We have included two 'works in progress' - they are The Great Dance by Craig & Damon Foster and Extracts from The Black by Eddie Edwards. The filmmakers will be there to discuss the process.

Documentary films made by the Apartheid State will be screened alongside contemporary documentaries to illustrate varying interpretations of similar subject matters. We thank Trevor Moses of the National Film Archives and Antonia Vermeulen of Government Communication and Information Services [GCIS] for their invaluable assistance.

Our heartfelt thanks to the sponsor of this festival, Pro Helvetia, in particular Peter da Rin of the film Department in Zurich and Mirjam Asmal of Pro Helvetia Liaison Office South Africa. Without their support, this festival would not have been possible. Thank you to various Swiss businesses in South Africa whose generous contributions will make this Festival truly festive. They are Devon Hill/SAVISA [Pty.] Ltd., Robert Bader of Cape Cheese Products [Pty.] Ltd., and Nestle [Pty.] Ltd. Thank you to Nico van der Merwe of Cinema Nouveau for his tangible support of this important event. We are grateful to, SABC and all the production houses for granting us screening rights.

Thank you to Sheila van Zyl, Administrator, and assistant Tegan Heneke who have ensured the smooth running of this Festival.

Finally, thank you to all the filmmakers for participating and congratulations on your wonderful films.

Nodi Murphy and Steven Markovitz




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