The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival has announced the appointment of Mandisa Ralane as Festival Director for its 21st edition this June. Mandisa returns to the helm after successfully leading the Festival as director from 2007 to 2012, where she helped Encounters confirm its place as Africa’s premier documentary film festival.

During her time as festival director, Mandisa acted as an ambassador for documentary films in general and the South African film industry in particular, both locally and internationally. She was recognised in the Mail and Guardian: Top 100 Women 2011 for the Arts and Culture Sector; spoke at The 2007 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in Greece; and sat on the Main Jury at the 2010 Tempo Documentary Festival in Sweden and on the 2010 BBC MyWorld Competition Jury.

Mandisa helped set up Encounters’ partnership with Sichuan TV Festival in China, which saw seven local documentaries screened and two local filmmakers hosted in China; Encounters’ partnership with the French Embassy, where she coordinated the first Africadoc SA residency, a writing residency designed for the development of African documentary cinema; and Encounters’ 2012 partnership with Al Jazeera English, which saw 20 African documentaries pitch to the global broadcaster. After a sojourn of Management in the Academic and Government sector she returns with a wealth of new experience for her return as director of the festival.

Encounters have also announced two new board members, Moroba Nkawe and Azania Muendane, both highly experienced and accomplished film professionals.

With over fifteen years of experience in the industry, Moroba Nkawe produced several award-winning productions at Dv8 Films including “Shirley Adams” by Oliver Hermanus, “Izulu Lami” by Madoda Ncayiyana and “Zimbabwe” by Darrell Roodt. Moroba went on to co-produce “State of Violence” by Khalo Matabane, line produce “Sleeper’s Wake” by Barry Berk and “Layla Fourie” by Pia Marais, a German-South African co-production as well as producing “Mandela’s Gun” by John Irvin, a South African-Algerian-UK co-production. She has also produced for television, including the ground-breaking drama series Room 9. She has served on the advisory panel of the National Film and Video Foundation and most recently joined Hollard Film Guarantors as Production Executive, where she oversees the production of feature films, documentaries and television series, from financing to delivery.  Highly respected by her peers, Moroba is passionate about film and television and thrives to make a meaningful contribution to the growing South African industry.

Azania Muendane brings a decade and a half of experience to her new role as a board member of the non-fiction film celebration. As head of the Marketing and Communications team of the National Film and Video Foundation from 2007 to 2017 Azania has represented the interests of filmmakers both South African and African, as well as film product globally. For ten years she was the project manager of the SAFTA Awards and for five years producer of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Film & TV Awards. She runs a film facilitation and marketing business that looks at strategies for filmmakers and government agencies, and facilitates local and international filmmakers to shoot across the continent. Her driving aim is to position Africa as a key destination for film production and distribution of African content.

Nkawe and Muendane join the four existing board members: lawyer, activist and author Advocate Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza, historian, UWC Professor and author Ciraj Rassool and film producers and co-founders of the Festival Steven Markovitz and Nodi Murphy.

From June 6-16th Encounters will celebrate 21 years as Africa’s leading documentary film festival. It is widely recognised as the premier non-fiction film festival on the continent, featuring compelling documentaries with strong narrative structures that are highly cinematic. Films with thoughtful, character-driven storytelling that add a necessary dimension to our understanding of the news and the fake news, the hot button issues, other people’s lives and, above all, ourselves and our place in the world.