The 15th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival is currently running until 16 June 2013 in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.
Of course there’s many documentaries we wouldn’t mind seeing including two 2013 Oscar nominees (The Gatekeepers and How To Survive A Plague) and winners from Berlin (Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present; In Heaven Underground), DOK Leipzig (Colombianos), and Sundance (Queen of Versailles; The House I Live In).
But what really caught our eye is this series produced by South African production company goodcop who brought the extensive variety of its roster to bear on these five 60-second promos for the festival.
The brief: to emphasise the 15-year anniversary of the festival along with various local issues of its time – patriarchy, gun culture, power and corruption.
The result: five abstract narrative meditations riffing on the notion of an ‘encounter’ as experienced in the mind of a contemporary documentary filmmaker. The films purposely avoided the visual clichés of the documentary form, instead establishing a tone of ‘the real’ within a more cinematic style that emphasised the changing nature of 21st Century documentary filmmaking.
Roping in feature-film director Oliver Hermanus (Skoonheid (Beauty) and Shirley Adams) – commercials director Larry Hamburger and former Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Michael McGArry went about splitting the various scripts. With money being spent only on the critical, and with two days in which to shoot all the films – production was designed in the manner of a film-school operation with each director revolving as art director and AD on one another’s pieces.
Oliver convinced collaborator and DOP Jamie Ramsay to shoot all the films, tying them all to a common visual attitude, and Daniel Levi came on board as last minute editor.