British actor Steve Coogan in Shepherds and Butchers


THIS year’s Jozi Film Festival opens on Thursday with Oliver Schmitz’s Shepherds and Butchers.

Set in the late 1980s, the intense drama takes a look at our capital punishment system.It features Steve Coogan as a celebrated human rights lawyer and Andrea Riseborough doing a very credible South African accent as a local prosecutor.

The award-winning documentary, A Billion Lives, will have its African premiere at the fifth annual Jozi Film Festival the next day. Biebert will be at the premiere and a Q&A will follow the filmTaking a look at the vaping industry, A Billion Lives exposes how pharmaceutical companies, anti-smoking advocacy groups, tobacco companies and governments around the world are to blame for disinformation around vapour technologies.

With smoking rates climbing in Africa faster than the rest of the world, the truth about smoking addiction, the chances of quitting and what therapies work have never been more important: “I am excited and proud to have our African premiere at the Jozi Film Festival. It’s time to get the truth out there before it’s too late,” said A Billion Lives director, Aaron Biebert. (The documentary will screen again on September 18, 8pm, Cinema Nouveau Rosebank).Another health-related documentary that would be of interest to local film fundis is Doc-u-Mentally, which looks at the crazy hours junior doctors have to work in South Africa.South African Francois Wahl, a chartered accountant with a passion for filmmaking, directed and produced the documentary, which follows five doctors as they each work a 30-hour shift.

Set mainly at Ngwelezane Hospital in Empangeni, KZN, Doc-u-Mentally is not for the faint-hearted as it shows real-life scenes of stab wounds, near-drownings and everything in between that junior doctors have to deal with. (Eyethu Lifestyle Cente, Soweto on September 17, 2pm; Rosebank Cinema Nouveau on September 18 at noon).

Other films which will play include:

Picking Up the Pieces: The Kuli Chana Story (Eyethu Lifestyle Centre, September 16, 6pm; Cinema Nouveau Rosebank, September 17, noon; The Bioscope, September 18, 3.30pm)

Wigger Please. Director Jonathan Ashley will be at the African premiere of the quirky film about white American rap fans who “act black”. (Eyethu Lifestyle Centre, September 17, 5pm; The Bioscope, September 17 at 7.45pm with director Q&A; The Bioscope, September 18, 2pm)

The Closer We Get. When film director Karen Guthrie’s mother suffers from a stroke, she grabs the camera to help her get a grip on how her family is changing. (The Bioscope, September 17, 2pm)

Film screenings take place at the Rosebank Cinema Nouveau Rosebank, The Bioscope and the Eyetheu Lifestyle Centre in Soweto.The Jozi Film Festival is also partnering with the Afda Alumni Community to host a weekend of film industry talks at the Goethe Institut on September 17 and 18. Topics will include how to break into Hollywood (for actors) and the future of independent local film.

Tickets for talks will be available at quicket. Check and the Afda website after Tuesday for the talk programme.