International Films
    2008 Festival Dates

19–29 June 2008

Cape Town
3–13 July 2008
Booking Details

    South African International
    Documentary Festival

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Previous Years


Angels in the Dust USA 2007 94min
Louise Hogarth

In the Magaliesberg a quiet miracle is taking place. The Cloetes uppedsticks, leaving all temporal comforts behind, and headed for the hills. These particular hills are home to an impoverished community, the population eroded by HIV/AIDS, and where educational opportunities are limited. Here the Cloetes have established an orphanage and a school, housing some 250 children and feeding a further 280 daily – children whose parents have been killed by the pandemic or whose family do not see the value of an education. Matriarch Marion, obviously the driving force, dispenses no-nonsense practical advice, compassion, love and affection in equal measure, but is not above a confrontation or two... Husband Colin and daughters Leigh and Nicole are quiet, necessary supports – he administering the school and farmlands. Though unsentimental, Angels in the Dust is a heart-warming tribute to a remarkable, generous family, and the vulnerable children who respond so well to care, affection and structure. The Simphiwe Dana soundtrack is outstanding.
Vara Audience Award, Amnesty FF Amsterdam 2008

Jhb Sat 21 / 8:30pm + Q&A Tue 24 / 6:45pm Sat 28 / 4:30pm
CT Sat 5 / 6pm Fri 11 / 8:15pm Sun 13 / 2:15pm

Bomb it! USA 2007 93min
Jon Reiss

This explosive, yet captivating history of graffiti tours the walls of the world to highlight the cultural and social impact of this much-maligned, social delinquent of art. Love it or hate it, graffiti is here to stay – and Bomb it! is your introduction and guide to this maverick, clandestine and (literally) underground art form. It cruises the unexpected urban galleries of the world, meeting the can-totting artists that have defined graffiti in their ‘hood’. Seen through the inspired, often staggeringly vast images of the individuals that lead the revolution, the film covers graffiti’s unexpected facets in short, deft strokes. It starts in Philadelphia in 1967, when Daryl “Cornbread” McCray first “tagged” a city. From Amsterdam to London, Barcelona to Tokyo, the film explores the explosion and adaptation of simple and often beautiful acts of cultural defiance, revealing stencilling in Paris, financial implications in Cape Town, and the underground in Brazil. It also covers the anti-graffiti lobby and charts the art form’s dilution by commercialism – gallery exhibits in LA, on billboards in Tokyo, and providing ‘street cred’ for an international brand in Spain. Encapsulating the excitement, danger and energy of the artists, Bomb It! is a fresh, furious look at the history and theory of an unconventional and controversial artistic and sociological phenomenon.

Jhb Fri 20 / 10:30pm Mon 23 / 8:30pm Sun 29 / 2:15pm
CT Fri 4 / 10:15pm Mon 7 / 6:30pm Sat 12 / 8:45pm

Bustin’ Down the Door USA 2008 96min
Jeremy Gosch

Surfing, as a laid-back lifestyle, gathered momentum in the 1950s and 60s especially in Southern California, popularising bikinis, baggies and Beach Boys music, and spawning numerous magazines. Still considered more of a past-time there were few contests, and those were dominated by Americans. In 1975 at a surf competition in Hawaii a bunch of boys from down South, among them South Africa’s Shaun Tomson, muscled their way in and proceeded to shock the locals by their skill and aggression, their lean mean hunger for success, publicity, fame and fortune, and by their determination to turn surfing into a Professional Sport, with sponsorship deals. It was an explosive and difficult time, as the film reveals. The brainchild of Shaun Tomson, Gosch’s film includes fabulous footage of the surfers in Hawaii in the 1970s and the interview list is a roll call of surfing greats – Wayne Bartholomew, Mark Richards, Peter Townend, Ian Cairns, Reno Abellira, Barry Kanaiaupuni, Bernie Baker, Dan Merkel, Randy Rarick, Fred Hemmings, Eddie Rothman, Clyde Aikau, David Gilovich, Phil Jarratt and Tomson. The film is narrated by two-time Oscar-nominee Edward Norton.

Shaun Tomson is a guest of the Festival courtesy of Nu Metro.

Jhb Fri 20 / 8:15pm + Q&A Sat 21 / 8pm Fri 27 / 8:15pm
CT Fri 4/8pm Sat 5/8:30pm Fri 11/10:30pm Sat 12/4:15 pm

Cat Dancers USA 2007 75min
Harris Fishman

Ron and Joy Holiday were among the most successful dancing, show people. In the 1960s they were regulars in the Radio City spectaculars, they travelled the world, he starred in the Folies Bergère in Paris, and they were on first name terms with William Holden and Tennessee Williams. But a dancer’s dancing life is short, and as they aged so their show became more spectacular with the presence of cougars, tigers, and pumas. Though well trained, the cats presented an element of real danger, and required phenomenal effort – besides the daily grind of grooming and feeding. The Holidays needed help, and eventually young and handsome Chuck completed the ménage à trois. Though avoiding cheap sensationalism, all is revealed in this film. It was the time of home movies, so the Holidays’ professional and personal activities are wonderfully archived through the 60s, 70s and 80s – and this footage lifts the film above the ordinary. And of course there is a lash in the kitty’s tail.
Best LGBT Film, 46th Ann Arbor FF, Michigan

Jhb Fri 20 / 10:30pm Mon 23 / 6:30pm Sat 28 / 6:30pm
CT Fri 4 / 10:30pm Wed 9 / 8pm Sun 13 / 4:30pm

The Encounter Cameroon 2008 26min
Cyrille Masso

Cameroon’s vibrant underground Hip Hop scene is explored through the encounter between a singer/rapper and a music anthropology student. Lyonga Cathy aka Krucial Kate is an aspirant Hip Hop star who is inspired by Alicia Keyes. Yushi Yamohara is a student from Oskaka University in Japan, who has come to Cameroon to research the music of the Baka people. He links up with Kate and her posse of Hip Hop friends, and they eventually record an album and video. Funky and cool, the film blends an original score with relaxed footage of the singer and her dancers in rehearsal and on the streets.

Cyrille Masso is a guest of the Festival courtesy of Africalia

Jhb Fri 20 / 8:45pm Sat 28 / 6:30pm + Q&A
CT Fri 4 / 6:15pm + Q&A Mon 7 / 6:30pm

Plays with Itchombi

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson USA 2007 118min
Alex Gibney

Drug-snorting, booze-guzzling Hunter S. Thompson was a rock star writer, a maverick reporter who rode with the Hell’s Angels and rammed coke up his nose on political campaign trails. But he was also one of the most talented and tenacious journalists of the 1970s and 80s, inventing the writing style known as ‘Gonzo’ and enlisting a dedicated pack of fans in the process. This film, by Oscar winning director Gibney, follows Thompson’s chaotic yet brilliantly creative career covering the major issues of his time, from the Chicago Riots to Vietnam to the downfall of Nixon. Remaining true to the spirit of the man described as a “walking monument to misbehaviour”, the film is part rollercoaster ride, part hardcore research as friends, colleagues and adversaries reminisce about Thompson’s life. Narrated by Johnny Depp, with input from former USA President Jimmy Carter, Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner, long-time creative partner Ralph Steadman and New Journalism guru Tom Wolfe, amongst others, this is an engaging and fascinating look at a unique man and the ground-breaking way he tackled politics and social topics. Thompson shot himself in 2005.

Jhb Fri 20 / 8:15pm Tue 24 / 8:15pm Sun 29 / 5.30pm
CT Mon 7 / 8:45pm Fri 11 / 10:30pm Sun 13 / 8:30pm

How to Become a Hero Serbia 2007 74min Serbian with English subtitles
Mladen Matičević

All his life Mladen Matičević has been obsessed with action movies; so obsessed that he became a filmmaker. But as he turns 40 and tries to rise above a deep depression, Matičević realises that he hasn’t fulfilled any of his dreams. He certainly hasn’t created a hero through his art and at 116kgs, with a constant longing for pizza, he is no hero himself. Then, during the summer of 2005, whilst slobbing in front of the TV he sees the end of the Rotterdam Marathon and inspiration strikes: he will begin to train for the Belgrade Marathon in 2006. Off he sets, at first staggering and, then as fitness and weight loss gain momentum, pounding around the track. His family and friends howl with derision and even put bets on his inability to make it. Regardless, he perseveres and accompanied by his ever-present sense of humour and self-deprecation we follow his struggle to train, lose weight, learn the tactics and eventually run the race. Droll and instantly likable, Matičević’s personal crisis epitomises the challenge of embracing the everyday hero buried deep within.

Jhb Fri 20 / 10:30pm Wed 25 / 7pm Sun 29 / 8pm
CT Mon 7 / 8:45pm Thu 10 / 6:45pm Sat 12 / 8:30pm

Itchombi Togo 2007 50min French with English subtitles
Gantille Assih Menguizan

In the village of Solla in Togo, scarification and circumcision rituals are compulsory for all young boys. The initiation rites start with the traditional marking of skin around the boys’ hips, followed two years later by circumcision. These are festive occasions for the entire community, accompanied by dancing and feasting. Women and men play an equal role in the initiation preparations. However, when one young man refuses to undergo circumcision until a more hygienic method is used, it causes much controversy. Deou, the son of Sao, has already undergone scarification. But he finds the practice of using one knife to circumcise several boys dangerous because of the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. His father tries to persuade the village elders to use separate knives and disinfectant, but they are against changing their traditional ways. Eventually, a solution is found. This vibrant documentary provides fascinating footage of the scarification and circumcision rituals, while noting how a traditional

Jhb Fri 20 / 8:45pm Sat 28 / 6:30pm
CT Fri 4 /6:15pm Mon 7 / 6:30pm

Plays with The Encounter


Joy Division UK 2007 96min
Grant Gee

This is the untold story of the seminal band Joy Division, whose members transcended the economic and cultural barriers to create music that surpassed the punk rock phenomena and continues to resonate thirty years later. In the late 70s four young men from stifling, depressed Manchester go to see the Sex Pistols. Blown away by their energy and particular irreverent brand of punk rock, the boys form their own band, sound and style and, after a few false starts, burst onto the UK’s music scene dragging it into the post-punk era. After three short, frenetic years and just as the band is poised for world domination, the lead singer commits suicide. That should have been the end of it, yet thirty years later their music still resonates with a far wider, increasingly younger audience and has influenced a swathe of new musical geniuses. This candid account of the band’s enduring legacy, at times atmospheric, heartfelt and amusing, plays out through unprecedented interviews with surviving band members, personal and iconic photographs, archive footage of live performances, gigs and sessions. It celebrates magnetic lead singer Ian Curtis’ life even as it discusses his spiralling depression and epilepsy, just as it analyses the social and political conditions that created their individual sound, as well as their historical rise to near-greatness.

Jhb Sun 22 / 8pm Tue 24 / 6:30pm Fri 27 10:30pm
CT Fri 4 / 10:30pm Tue 8 / 6:30pm Sun 13 / 8:45pm

Lakshmi and Me India / Denmark 2007 59min English and Hindi, Tamil, Marathi with English subtitles
Nishtha Jain

Filmmaker Jain is the epitome of the new India. She’s an educated, professional who lives on her own and has a successful career. In short, she’s a thoroughly modern, independent woman. Part of this hard-earned lifestyle includes being able to pay 21 year-old Lakshmi to clean her flat. Lakshmi refers to Jain as her ‘older sister’, and although their relationship is more relaxed than that of the traditional madam and maid, a crevice of social, religious, cultural and intellectual beliefs and stigmas divide them. Jain’s film about Lakshmi explores her reality where she must, over and above her 10 hours a day seven days a week work, fight for her rights, health and love within an antiquated caste system. This tantalizing and honest film follows brave, resolute and beguiling Lakshmi’s life over a year and a half. During this time Jain develops a deep personal bond with a person who was originally a necessary but occasionally inconvenient shadow.
Nominated for the Silver Wolf Award, IDFA 2007

Jhb Sat 21 / 4:30pm Fri 27 / 10:30pm
CT Sat 5 / 4:15pm Tue 8 / 7pm Sun 13 / 6pm

Maria’s Grotto Palestine 2007 52min Arabic with English subtitles
Buthina Canaan Khoury

When Maria was suspected of “improper behaviour” with a man, she was executed and her body buried in the vault of her village church. When Hiyam fell pregnant out of wedlock, her family forced her to eat poison, killing both her and her unborn child. They also burnt down the home of the man suspected of sleeping with her, and those of his mother and siblings. Such is “justice” in contemporary Palestine, where tribal law exists uneasily alongside modern law, and where men who slay female family members are seen to be doing their duty. Here honour killings are necessary to preserve family dignity, and if the men are convicted they serve a token sentence, a few months at most. Young women such as hip hop singer Abeer are trying to change the culture and system, but it is dangerous for those who speak out. Those who do talk are unable to agree on the perceived crimes of those honourably murdered, testament to the incoherence of the premise of honour killings. Hard to believe in this day and age.

Jhb Sun 22 / 2:30pm Thu 26 / 7pm
CT Sun 6 / 3pm Wed 9 / 8:45pm

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

Who knew that a film on the epitome of a high-culture artefact, costing around R700, 000, could spawn a story of dedicated, passionate and skilled working people that is both touching and engrossing. A Steinway Concert Grand is the quintessential desire of every professional pianist. And behind each piano is a remarkable story. Working in the Steinway factory in Astoria, N.Y. is a United Nations team of craftsmen and women that are heirs to the nearly extinct centuries-old piano-making tradition. This team spends one year transforming a hunk of untreated wood into an elaborate and precise handcrafted object of sublime tonal perfection. As we follow each laborious and painstaking process we meet those delightfully quirky personalities and delve into their infatuation with what they do. Not all pianos make the grade, and from the start you’ll be rooting for Steinway L1037 whose creation we follow. Music lovers will revel in the guest appearance of world-renowned musicians (from jazz pianists Kenny Barron, Bill Charlap and Harry Connick Jr. to concert impresarios Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Lang Lang and Hélène Grimaud) who put the finalists through their paces and discuss the individual, emotional and tonal bond each has with a Steinway.

Jhb Sun 22 / 5pm Wed 25 / 8:45pm Sun 29 / 8:30pm
CT Sun 6/5pm Tues 8 / 8:30pm Thu 10 / 8:30pm Sat 12/8:15pm

The Nuclear Comeback New Zealand 2007 75min
Justin Pemberton

In a complete turn around from 1970s activism, carbon-free nuclear energy is no longer the demon that we had been led to believe and now is being touted as the answer to the Earth’s energy crisis. This fascinating documentary weighs up the arguments for and against a plutonium-rich future. In this energy-hungry world, the threat of depleting fossil fuels has placed the powers-that-be in a quandary. The nuclear solution has been the pariah of the energy world, but now even the most forward-thinking governments are being enticed by the promise of zero carbon emissions and have begun to embrace ‘clean’, safe and efficient nuclear power. Presently 27 nuclear power stations (including our own) are under construction, with a further 136 projected for construction within the next ten years. But is it really our only answer? Nuclear power is scary and expensive. Whichever way you spin it, accidents have happened and its waste-products take 100,000 years to bio-degrade. These and many other arguments, both for and against, are broached in this balanced and well-researched global tour of nuclear facilities (Chernobyl, an Australian uranium mine and a Baltic nuclear waste repository), and is interspersed with informative interviews from nuclear dissenters and advocates alike.

Jhb Sat 21 / 6:15pm Thu 26 / 8:30pm
CT Sun 6 / 5pm Thu 10 / 8:45pm Sat 12 / 4:30pm

Over the Hill The Netherlands 2007 60min
Sunny Bergman

What’s to be done about sagging bums, drooping eyelids and flappy vaginas? If you’re in the beauty industry, the answer is simply - nip and tuck! Bergman explores an industry where even images of beautiful women are altered, ‘shopped’ to project eternal youth - air-brushed and wrinkle-free. Whose idea is this anyway? It starts out innocently enough at the cosmetics counter. Most women use a bit of slap. But, as Bergman points out, it’s gone a lot further. We know about Botox to smooth laugh
lines, breast implants to enhance, and liposuction to remove wobbly bits – but what to do when a 15-year-old obsesses about the size of her labia, and finds the surgeon who agrees that they are too big, too unruly? What to do when a medic tells perfectly normal women they need half their bodies chopped away to look good. Bergman’s look at beauty standards is both deadly serious and shockingly funny, it exposes the dark side of the beauty industry – and it ain’t pretty.
Award of the Mecklenburgische Versicherungsgruppe 2007
Findling Award, State Association of Film Communication 2007
NIPKOW Award 2007

Sunny Bergman is a guest of the Festival and travels courtesy of Holland Film.


Jhb Sun 22/8:15pm Thu 26/8:15pm + Panel Sat 28/8:15pm + Q&A
CT Sat 5 / 8:15pm + Panel Wed 9 / 6:30pm Sat 12 / 6:45pm

Paradise Sweden 2007 58min Swedish with English subtitles
Jerzy Sladkowski

Irascible Hans and his long-suffering wife Kerstin have been married for 60 years. The 83-year-olds live in a cottage in rural Sweden, and spend their days in a slow shuffle of activity – rowing across a lake to pick berries, baking a cake, playing the trumpet. Hans appears all blustering bossiness, while Kerstin plays the role of resigned spouse, their bickering habitual. This is all on the surface for beneath lies tenderness and a deep love. The relationship is put to the test, however, when Hans decides that the lounge needs to be wallpapered – and Kerstin disagrees. The project brings out the worst – and ultimately the best – in their marriage, and ends with a delightful touch of whimsy. A delightful film – gentle, funny, often off beat, but told with an immaculate sense of timing.

Courtesy of the Director and Swedish Film Institute.

Jhb Sun 22 / 5:15pm Wed 25 / 6:30pm Sun 29 / 5:15pm
CT Sun 6 / 2:30pm Thu 10 / 6:30pm Sat 12 / 2:15pm

Plays with

The Tailor Spain 2007 30min Spanish with English subtitles
Oscar Perez

Mohamed-the-hapless is a dreadful tailor. Worse, he argues vehemently in broken Spanish with his customers. By turns funny and sad, the film makes no obvious statement on the life of “outsiders” within an adopted country, but records the action with empathetic patience.
Silver Cub Award IDFA 2007

Jhb Sun 22 / 5:15pm Wed 25 / 6:30pm Sun 29 / 5:15pm
CT Sun 6 / 2:30pm Thu 10 / 6:30pm Sat 12 / 2:15pm

A Place of Our Own USA 2004 60min
Stanley Nelson

A genuine, endearing personal account of halcyon days, living the 60s American Dream – growing up in an affluent, upper-middle class African-American community on Martha’s Vineyard. Nelson, a dentist’s son, grew up in a mostly white neighbourhood attending mostly white schools. Feeling out of touch with black culture and the black consciousness movement, there were few places where Nelson’s family could enjoy their privileged status, one of them being a summer house at Oak Bluffs, where, “at least for the summer the world did not look at us and define us solely by race”. Those carefree days are affectionately recreated through archival footage, interviews and amusing anecdotes supplied by the aged, sprightly characters still entrenched at Oak Bluffs. Nelson must face his estranged father, an embittered man who sought success, but could never leave the inequality of the ‘real world’ behind. A Place of Our Own begs the question of the cost of abandoning a class struggle in achieving the American Dream. Watch the interview with The Times.

Stanley Nelson is a guest of the Festival and travels courtesy of the US Consulate

Jhb Wed 25 / 8:30pm Fri 27 / 8:30pm + Q&A Sun 29 / 8:15pm + Q&A
CT Fri 4 / 8:30pm + Q&A Tue 8 / 8:15pm Sat 12 / 3:45pm

Stranded – I’ve come from a plane that crashed on the mountains France 2007 127min Spanish with English subtitles
Gonzalo Arijón

Neither sensationalist nor evasive, this riveting profile of the survivors of Flight 571 relate the psychological, physical and spiritual angst they experienced when making the decision to survive. On Friday 13 October 1972, forty-five members and supporters of the Uruguayan rugby team, the Old Christians, boarded the plane for Chile. Privileged, educated and buoyed with the high spirits of youth, the passengers had everything to live for – until their plane crashes onto a remote and inescapably bleak
4000m high glacier in the Andes. Undetected from the air, the search is called off after 10 days. But 10 weeks later, two exhausted, starving men stumbled off a mountain, lucky to find a Chilean shepherd in the wilderness, and told a story that would shock the world. Thirty-five years later, the humanity behind the salacious headlines, is recalled by Arijón. The trip, crash and bid to survive by eating the flesh of friends and families is retold through deeply emotional accounts, recovered footage and photographs, and moving, well-crafted reconstructions. Parallel to the main story is a return trip for the survivors and their families to the crash site, where boys went through their own personal hell to become men. read more

Winner, Joris Ivens Award, IDFA 2007.

The survivor who is attending is Eduardo Strauch and his website has both a spanish and english version: http://www.eduardostrauch.com/. Courtesy of the French Embassy

Jhb Sun 22/8:30pm Tue 24/8:45pm Sat 28/8:30pm + Q&A Sun 29/5pm + Q&A
CT Sun 6/8:15pm + Q&A Tue 8/8:45pm + Q&A Fri 11/8pm Sun 13/6.15pm

When Clouds Clear Ecuador / USA 2007 77min Spanish with English subtitles
Anne Slick & Danielle Bernstein

The village of Junín, Ecuador now has a population of less than a hundred people. Forty families, more or less. Their lifestyle is rural, and based on a communal spirit which sees neighbours pulling together to plant crops, paint buildings and put up a local school. When first a Japanese, and then a Canadian copper mining company want to buy their land and relocate the village, their reaction is remarkable. United in their desire to preserve their homes for their own and future generations, they resort to first peaceful and then radical measures to stop the exploitation of their land. However, lucrative offers to the villagers for their farms result in a split between friends and families, posing a threat to the peaceful – and environmentally sustainable – Junín lifestyle. When Clouds Clear uncovers the devastating conflicts and divisions that have affected a community, and how they are dealing with this. Narrated by the townsfolk, who also filmed their protests, it tells a gripping tale of how a marginalised group is using the law – and their own unity – to fight back and protect their land and heritage.
Artistic Vision Award, Big Sky Documentary Festival, Montana 2008
Social Justice Award, Santa Barbara IFF 2008

Jhb Sat 21 / 4:15pm Thu 26 / 6:45pm Sat 28 / 4:45pm
CT Sun 6 / 2:45pm Fri 11 / 10:15pm Sun 13 / 8:30pm