Covid-19 Short Film Grant 2020

Life, Love, Rifts and Rage in the Time of Covid-19: The DFA Covid-19 Short Film Grant

In view of the challenges faced by our industry the DFA board created the DFA Covid-19 Short Film Grant to support independent content that reflects South African stories during the coronavirus pandemic.The DFA is pleased to support a series of short films under the banner Life, Love, Rifts and Rage in the time of Covid-19.

“When the Covid-19 Lockdown arrived there wasn’t much good news going around and relief funds were slow to reach our members. The DFA decided to offer 5 filmmakers an opportunity to receive the DFA Covid-19 Short Film Grant under the banner Life, Love, Rifts and Rage in the time of Covid-19“, says DFA co-chair and project co-ordinator Miki Redelinghuys. “We issued the call and there was an overwhelmingly positive response. We are proud to be supporting independent content that reflects South African stories during the coronavirus pandemic and equally excited to premiere the films at this year’s edition of Encounters Documentary Film Festival”.

Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival is breaking boundaries and responding in real-time to the world’s new reality by making the Festival available to everyone, everywhere in South Africa. Encounters cements its place as Africa’s leading documentary festival as it celebrates its 22nd year by making most of the films free-of-charge to view on virtual platforms, but will also screen at selected cinema venues in Johannesburg and Cape Town from 20 -30 August. After two decades offering South African and international audiences compelling and groundbreaking documentaries this move into the digital arena sees Encounters at the cutting-edge of cinema’s next wave. “During this challenging time of COVID-19, the courageous step toward a new kind of film festival has been a monumental team effort”, Encounters Festival Director Mandisa Zitha.

The LAUNCH of the DFA Covid-19 Short Films will be online during Encounters:

DFA Covid-19 Shorts (only 400 tickets available)

Watchable from 6pm on 30 August 2020 for a 24 hour period only

+ live Q&A with the filmmakers around 6:45pm

The DFA Covid-19 Short Film Grant project has been supported by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture


by Tshililo waha Muzila

In the time of COVID-19, a small and isolated community is left vulnerable as it struggles to fight off an illegal mining cartel in their backyard. It’s only a day after the President announced the National Lockdown and the new normal settles in Cowboy Town. It’s a surreal picture as only an essential services truck roam the street as sunset rips through an old Bombardier plane next to the Sherrif’s Office of this western themed entertainment venue. It is only when the night sets in that an eerie faint sound can be heard coming from an empty field behind the residential complex. CCTV cameras reveal trucks appearing from the pitch black field. Dozens of dark figures with tiny torches in their foreheads jump off and start digging the land. The Zamazamas (illegal miners) have landed and this is only day one.

This short documentary film aims to relive a journey of four unidentified residents as they mobilise, with caution. to fight back against the new occupiers off the land by utilising all means necessary to get their plight heard. The film will also expose the police’s incompetence and their questionable response as they play a cat and mouse game, oblivious that big brother is watching.


Tshililo waha Muzila was born and raised in Limpopo and moved to Johannesburg in 2000 to pursue studies at Wits University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Television and Media Studies. He started working professionally in the Television industry in 2005 as a cameraman at Red Pepper Pictures and started his own production company, Masanani Production in 2008 and in the same year directed and produced an independently-funded comedy Talent Search Show in Venda.

Since then Tshililo  has worked on various television productions as DOP, Editor and Director. He is currently co-producing and directing an international feature length documentary, Negrito del Congo which has been shot in Spain, Senegal and South Africa.

5 Minutes with… Tshililo waha Muzila: read the interview here

The Best and Worst of Us

by Jasyn Howes

Armand Hough is a photojournalist based in Cape Town, South Africa. When lockdown was announced he committed to tracking the daily events in and around his city and what he discovered was a society confronting itself in complicated ways. Whether in privileged areas of the Atlantic Seaboard or in impoverished areas of the Cape Flats, Armand spent his days of lockdown searching for stories and searching for truth. In the process he realised a lot about himself and what drives him to do what he does, all the while growing an organic following on his Instagram, a platform that served as a window into the world outside whilst everyone was locked down inside. 


Jasyn Howes is a multidisciplinary filmmaker based in Cape Town, South Africa. He has worked in film and television for ten years as a cinematographer and director and has shot documentary style content in more than 36 countries. His debut short documentary “Dula” won at the Jozi Film Festival in 2018 as well as being screened in competition at festivals in the US and UK.

5 Minutes with… Jasyn Howes: read the interview here

Lindela Under Lockdown

by Sihle Hlope

Through leaked voice notes, photos and videos, we meet David, a Congolese deportee who has been detained at Lindela Repatriation Centre for over 120 days. Lindela Repatriation Centre is South Africa’s largest facility for the holding of undocumented migrants. From David’s perspective, we experience how life has been at Lindela since the national lockdown begun.

Deportees have been complaining about not being able to observe social distancing because of overcrowding, unsanitary ablution facilities, mistreatment, food shortages, widespread corruption and irregular legal processes. The growing dissatisfaction of the deportees results in them staging a protest march and David is one of the organisers. The authorities beat him up, confiscate his phone and put him in a ‘punishment cell’. His brother, Omar, goes to Lindela to try and find out what is happening inside


Sihle Hlophe is an award-winning filmmaker and over the last 11 years her work has been recognised with a number of accolades. Hlophe is an alumna of the IDFA Academy (the Netherlands), the North-South-South Student Exchange Program (Finland) and the Hot Docs Blue Ice Group Story Lab (Canada). She has worked as a scriptwriter and storyliner on popular TV programs such as Lockdown, Scandal, Mutual Friends, Broken Vows, Ya Lla and Isipho. She is also the founder and executive producer of Passion Seed Communications, a for-profit social enterprise that develops social impact films and campaigns for underserved audience members.

Sihle recently co-produced Sadla, a short film that has premiered at Sundance and TIFF. She has written and directed two award-winning narrative short films that have been screened at over 30 film festivals around the world and is the producer and director of a feature length documentary, Lobola, A Bride’s True Price due for release in 2020.

5 Minutes with… Sihle Hlophe: read the interview here

Umngcwabo (The funeral)

by Omelga Mthiyane

In Zulu Tradition, death is not the end, It’s the new beginning in the afterlife, but the ritual intricacies of the sendoff need to be observed correctly by the family of the deceased. Would Covid19 burial regulations allow the family to observe the natural processes of burial?


Omelga Mthiyane is an award-winning filmmaker. She has directed and produced several documentary films for the South African Broadcasting corporation (SABC) and ETV. Her first film, Ikhaya was premiered at the United State of America most acclaimed film festival, the Sundance International Film Festival. Other film festivals include The Berlin International Film Festival, The Durban International Film Festival, Hot Docs and more. Films directed and produced by Omelga Mthiyane of are Different Pigment, Ikhaya Malawi and Inanda, my Heritage. She has directed on a few TV series including Headwrap, Khumbulekhaya and Yobe.

She co-directed Baraka which was a reaction documentary against xenophobic attacks that happened in 2008 in South Africa. Baraka premiered in the Berlinale before it was broadcasted by BBC World. Her recent film Kushaya Igagasi won a prize at the Surfing festival in Portugal.

She received her Bachelor in Technology from the Durban University of Technology and a Certificate in Documentary filmmaking from the Binger Institute and is currently doing her Masters in Film and Television with Witwatersrand University.

5 Minutes with… Omelga Mthiyane: read the interview here