The festival began in 2012 and was initially created to provide a platform for local filmmakers and reach audiences under serviced by traditional cinemas. The festival began accepting entries from around the world in 2014 and is now firmly established as one of the sub-continent’s leading film festivals. The Jozi Film Festival is proudly independent, and a supporter of independent films. We support and showcase both upcoming talent and veteran filmmakers.

I have been lucky enough to be involved from the start – and one of my fondest memories is, year one, screening on a white sheet at the Kensington Bowls Club, with my then business Darkies Cafe a sponsor.

My involvements is a result of my friendship with Lisa Henry, one of the founders and the driving force of the festival. Without her, quite frankly, the JFF would not have survived (thrived!) for nearly a decade. And whilst we still manage pretty much on a wing and a prayer, each year we grow the sponsorship and contributions – and still receive hundreds of superb entries (which Lisa and her team of judges draw a short listed selection from).

The festival takes place each year over a four-day period at various venues around Jo’burg – our cornerstone for the last 8 years has been The Bioscope Independent Cinema in Maboneng. We always open with a local film and the festival culminates in an Awards event where the best films in each category are recognized. This year we are opening in Hyde Park, but you’ll find us across the city. One of the things I love is the diversity of venues (we have been in Soweto, Alex and Rosebank) – showcasing how magnificent Jozi truly is.

We rely on a voluntary jury of filmmakers/film industry people from SA and around the world to judge our entries. Our categories: Best Feature Film, Best Feature Length Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Best Short Fiction, Best Student Film (SA only), and the Audience Choice Award. Awards are given out to both local and international films in these categories. This year we have added two new categories: Best South African Director and Best South African Music Video – and I am particularly excited by the latter.

This will also be out third year partnering with Discovery Networks to bring a competitive category that offers a cash prize – this year’s call is for Real Stories by Real People About Real Lives.

We’re looking for 3-5 minute films that will be broadcast on Real Time (DSTV 155).

The winner will receive $2 500, second place $1 000 and third place, $750, and be broadcast on Real Time, alongside all the films shortlisted by a JFF and Discovery jury. The public will vote for the top three via our website and social media pages.