Mandisa Zitha, who is currently Festival Director of the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, completed her BA in Film and Media Studies at UCT in 2005, majoring in Documentary. In 2007, she assumed the reins of the Encounters Documentary Festival until 2012, when the pressures of a growing family dictated more regular hours.
After a 5-year stint at UCT, as Alumni Officer, she joined WESGRO as a Manager (Strategic Projects). But Encounters’ purpose and her love of the documentary genre saw her return to the position of Festival Director in 2019.
Zitha is an ambassador for the SA film industry, she was one of the Mail and Guardian’s 2011 Top 100 Women for the Arts and Culture Sector, spoke at The 2007 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in Greece. In 2010, she sat on the Main Jury at the Tempo Documentary Festival, Sweden and BBC My World Competition, and was a panellist at GZDOC 2020 (China) – “How International film festivals and markets plan their post pandemic returns”. She recently received the 2020 Mbokodo Award for ‘Women in Media’.
Zitha was instrumental in building Encounters’ partnerships with: Sichuan TV Festival in China, which took seven local films and two filmmakers to a festival in China, the French Embassy on the first Africadoc SA writing residency, designed to develop African documentary cinema, and the 2012 partnership with Al Jazeera English, which saw 20 African documentaries pitch to the global broadcaster. In her current role, Zitha is committed to the development of emerging talent in the documentary industry.