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    The Encounters International Documentary Film Festival Is Changing Things Up In 2020

    In light of current events, the The Encounters film festival 2020 is mixing things up, so we’ve got guest writer Ashleigh da Silva on board to tell us how we can get involved in this exciting online, and free, event.

    [dropcap]E[/dropcap]ven though things are a little different this year (okay, really different) the 22nd Encounters International documentary film festival is forging on, by going fully virtual this year. Starting on the 20th of August, and running its usual 10 day cycle until the August 30th.

    Encounters international documentary film festival

    Photo by from Pexels

    What’s happening at Encounters in 2020?

    Usually taking place in June each year at the Labia theatre in Cape Town, The Bioscope and Ster Kinekor cinemas, the postponement and neeed to think on their feet hasn’t stopped the festival from putting together an intriguing, exciting and informative selection in 2020. The festival opens with Influence – which premiered at Sundance in competition earlier this year, and follows the many politically devious and scandalous undertakings of Bell Pottinger, the infamous British PR agency, and their sinister relations to South Africa and Jacob Zuma’s presidency campaigns. 

    Being roughly categorised into 3 sections, ART, NEW AFRICA and NEWS (which includes shorts and feature length films) there will be a variety of films following topics like theatre, art, questionable leaderships – rife in the middle east – and the dark web, from all over the world (see all films synopses here).

    Using the streaming platform SHIFT72, there will be between 400 to 800 tickets available per screening and will be geo-blocked to South Africa only – which is great for filmmakers to still maintain their South African/African premieres. On a positive note (considering COVID-19) it allows for more viewers per screening than it would in the average cinema, and most importantly all screenings will be completely free of charge this year! Using SHIFT72 allows the viewer to gain tickets to the screenings of their choice, and on the day that the film premieres, or is showing, you have 24 hours to view the film. This means that you can watch the film whenever is most suitable to you within that time – which is great for planning whole day binges!

    There is always a strong focus on South African films, and Encounters has always created a nurturing atmosphere for young filmmakers – there will be a variety of online panels, virtual Q&A’s and industry events which anyone is welcome to join if they want to get inside scoops about different filmmaking experiences and techniques. Keep an eye on their social media to find out times and dates.

    How do I get tickets?

    Tickets will become available on the 17th of August, so get in there quickly before they run out! While the tickets are free, if you are able to make any donation to the festival, please do so – the equivalent of the usual popcorn and a drink can go a long way – please donate here

    If you are interested in finding out more information, visit the Encounters website here for film schedules and industry events, or any of their social media platforms which are frequently updated. You can also check out the festival trailers here and here.

    Get the full programme at 

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    Encounters International film festival 2020

    Ashleigh da Silva

    This article was written by filmmaker and editor, Ashleigh da Silva. Grab your tickets to the premiere of her short film Blend now, and follow her on instagram @ash_da_silva to stay up to date on her upcoming projects.

    You can also visit her website here:

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