15-18 September 2016
Johannesburg, South Africa

Submissions now CLOSED for 2016


The Jozi Film Festival is an annual event that showcases the latest films made by South African and international filmmakers in one of Africa's most vibrant cities - Johannesburg. We are a non-profit organisation dedicated to enriching local culture, supporting the city’s vibrant film community, and reaching new audiences through the powerful language of film.

The Fifth Annual Jozi Film Festival, taking place 15-18 September 2016, will highlight the very best in filmmaking, presenting a multi-genre slate of films from emerging and established filmmakers, exploring a broad range of topics that affect our communities and stir our hearts and minds. An exciting line up of South African and international films will be screened over a three-day period at several venues throughout the city, including The Bioscope Independent Cinema in the heart of Johannesburg.

The festival will also offer provocative Q&A sessions with the filmmakers in attendance, as well as workshops and networking events. Wrapping up the festival will be our exciting Awards Ceremony.


Shepherds Butchers PosterThe Jozi Film Festival is proud to announce that our opening night film of 2016 is the award-winning courtroom drama, SHEPHERDS AND BUTCHERS. The Johannesburg premiere of the film will officially open our fifth festival on Thursday, 15th of September at Rosebank’s Cinema Nouveau. We are also thrilled to reveal that members of the filmmaking team will be in Johannesburg to introduce the film, along with cast members.

“It is an honour to have SHEPHERDS AND BUTCHERS invited to open the Jozi Film Festival. The festival is an excellent platform for South African films, and has developed a profile to become one of the leading festivals in the country since its first edition five years ago,” said Anant Singh.

Directed by South African Oliver Schmitz (Mapantsula, Life, Above All) and starring Brits, Steve Coogan and Andrea Riseborough (Birdman) as opposing legal counsel, this film puts the death penalty on trial.

Set in 1987, when South Africa still had the death penalty in place, the film tells the story (based on real events) of a young white prison guard (Garion Dowds) who snaps after witnessing multiple executions and kills seven black men in cold blood. His lawyer, John Weber (Coogan) is a passionate opponent of the death penalty but how can he possibly win this law suit? As the trial progresses, Weber questions legally sanctioned murder in what should be an open and shut case. How can one man be expected to be both shepherd and butcher, friend and executioner? Can Weber prevent the hangman from being hanged himself? The film reflects on individual and collective guilt and how an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. It also highlights how capital punishment was yet another way for the apartheid government to discriminate against the black population.

Twenty years on, the film is relevant is a country like South Africa, where we deal with extraordinary levels of violence on a daily basis, where people are calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty and where the fallout of legally sanctioned violence is still keenly felt. The film premièred at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. The screenplay, is based on the novel by Chris Marnewick and is produced by Anant Singh and Brian Cox.

The film releases at cinemas countrywide on 28 October.

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