The Tri Continental Film Festival (TCFF), the largest festival of human rights cinema in Africa, will take place from 7 to 23 September in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Soweto at Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau. Fredrik Gertten’s critically acclaimed documentary Big Boys Gone Bananas will open the festival on Thursday 6 September.


Festival-goers will be treated to an exciting programming line-up of diverse human rights-focused titles and genres from around the globe. Audiences can expect to view remarkable pieces of documentary cinema by directors such as Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Paul Taylor, Pirjo Honkasalo, Jihan El-Tahri, Francois Verster, Micha X Peled, Jon Shenk, Santiago Zannou, Petr Lom, Delphine de Blic, Alison Klayman, Fredrik Gertten and Laura Gamse.

The festival will screen 42 films, 37 narratives and five shorts that demonstrate the breadth of global documentary-making. Ten films make up a special best of section, taken from past TCFF catalogues. A total of 32 titles have received awards on the international festival circuit, and five films in the African selection will have their South African premiere.

“The best of selection are the films that resonated with our audiences, films that shook the festival, not just because they are some of the best examples of the craft of documentary filmmaking, but because they show that when a filmmaker knows how to tell their story, the effect can stay with viewers long after the credits have rolled,” says Rehad Desai, the festival director.

“With our main film section freedom of expression has emerged as a strong theme in the hundreds of films we chose from, highlighting the crucial role of the artist in social change at a time when our freedoms are increasingly being threatened.”

The freedom of expression selection includes the world premiere of Suffering Grasses, a brave new film that seeks to draw attention to the peaceful wishes of Syrian people.

“It was important that we close TCFF’s first decade highlighting projects that were attuned to the pulse of South African social issues,” said TCFF director of programming Anita Khanna. “We are eager to introduce our audiences to a group of films that provide a window into the world, as well as reworking genres and testing traditional modes of storytelling.”

The TCFF, founded to broaden the audience for human rights documentary film and encourage a social justice society, will include two retrospectives – an antiglobalisation slate to mark the completion of Micha X Peled’s antiglobalisation trilogy and a focus on Palestine that includes Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s stunning film, 5 Broken Cameras, and Roadmap to Apartheid by South African and Israeli directors Ana Nogueira and Eron Davidson.

TCFF will take place at Johannesburg Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau Theatres from 7 to 16 September, Soweto from 7 to 14 September, Pretoria from 14 to 23 September, and Cape Town from 14 to 18 September.

The film guide and schedule is available at