The 2023 CineBa Film Festival: An Exciting Two-Day Showcase of South African Documentary Films

This year marks the first time that the CineBa Film Festival will be held in Bloemfontein. CineBa is engaged in growing a sustainable platform in the Free State, where film lovers and youth can engage local talent and pursue their interest in contributing to the art form and film industry. The festival is organised through the Encounters Community Festivals: Doc Activate  Season 2023, with the support of the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).   

Set to take place on the 27th and 28th of April 2023 at 56 Oliver Tambo Road, Bloemfontein Central, Festival Director Tshiamo Malatji promises an exciting line-up of four South African documentary films. The careful selection of documentaries focusing on political mystery, conspiracy and secrecy promises a stimulating exploration of South African narratives and important review of our political state of affairs. For audiences outside of Bloemfontein, festival events will be livestreamed.

Bloemfontein-based actress, Jessica Sithole endorses the festival as “An exciting time to bring forth our untold stories to light—right in the heart of the Free State, Bloemfontein.” 

CineBa aims to build a community around its annual film festival for the Free State province, which will highlight local filmmakers and stories. This year’s festival organisers have invited youth from high schools and orphanages to attend and participate, hoping to upskill and inspire a new generation of filmmakers with the compelling craft of storytelling and the know-how of film production.  

The line-up includes this year’s featured documentary Murder in Paris (2021) which appraises the motives for the assassination of anti-apartheid activist, Dulcie September. The story travels from the heart of Paris in March 1988 to the pursuit of justice in 2021. Director Enver Samuel attempts to expose layers of deceit, complicity and hidden agendas in the unsolved mystery of Dulcie September’s murder. 

Bisho Massacre, Who Pulled The Trigger? (2020), directed by Petunia Mokoena, offers a chilling portrayal of the Bisho massacre that occurred in 1992, delving into the events that led up to the tragedy and the political landscape of the time. As the ANC mobilised to dismantle the Bantustan regimes set up under apartheid, and to reintegrate the Ciskei into South Africa, a march of about 80,000 protestors culminated in a massacre that claimed the lives of 29 ANC supporters, one police officer, and left 200 people injured. The documentary investigates TRC proceedings and how responsibility and accountability might be apportioned for this tragic event.  

Manche, The African Martyr (2022), directed by Meggan Raubenheimer, is a thought-provoking short film exploring the story of Manche Masemola, a young South African who died at the age of 15 for her Christian beliefs during a time when culture and religion were deeply intertwined. Through interviews with those familiar with her tale and members of her village, this film explores the circumstances surrounding her martyrdom and its significance in the context of the arrival of German missionaries in South Africa and their impact on indigenous beliefs. 

A New Country (2020), directed by Sifiso Khanyile, is a frank examination of the optimism of 1994 and the end of apartheid to where we find ourselves today. Nearly twenty-nine years after its birth as a democratic country, South Africa remains the most unequal society in the world. Reflecting on this period of liberation, disjointedness and continued resistance are a wide spectrum of its everyday citizens. 

The festival talks will feature a documentary masterclass, presentations by the festival’s partners, film directors and industry members and the launch of the CineBa Film Club. The festival doors open at 11AM each day and the screening schedule is as follows: 

27 April – Day one 

11:00 Doors Open 

12:00 Industry talks 

14:00 Short film screenings  

Bisho Massacre, Who Pulled The Trigger? (2020) dir. Pertunia Mokoena 

Manche, The African Martyr (2022) dir. Meggan Raubenheimer 

16:00 Feature Screening  

Murder in Paris (2021) dir. Enver Samuel 

18:00 Festival talks: film discussion  

28 April – Day two  

11:00 Doors Open 

12:00 Documentary Masterclass 

14:30 Launch of the CineBa FIlm Club 

16:00 Feature Screening 

A New Country (2020) dir. Sifiso Khanyile 

17:00 Festival talks: film discussion Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to celebrate and support South African filmmakers and their stories. For more information, go to the festival website; follow on social media – instagram and TikTok; or please contact the festival at To join the livestream visit the festival YouTube channel.

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