5 must-see movies at the 2023 Joburg Film Festival

“Music is my Life” tells the story of Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s musical road to fame. File Picture: Marilyn Bernard

“Music is my Life” tells the story of Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s musical road to fame. File Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Published Jan 25, 2023


Johannesburg - The Joburg Film Festival (JFF) willl kick off across Joburg from January 31 until February 5, showcasing some of the finest films from over 35 countries across the globe, including 20 African and 27 South African premières.

Powered by MultiChoice, the Joburg Film Festival has announced that the opening film will be the Moussa Sene Absa directed masterpiece, “XALE”.

The opening film “XALE” follows the life of Awa, a 15-year-old African schoolgirl who is happily living her teenage years alongside her twin brother Adama who dreams of Europe.

This beautiful Senegalese feature immerses the viewer into a storyline of family values, love, life and betrayal.

The Joburg Film Festival line-up includes films from South Africa, Tunisia, Brazil, Seoul, Brazil, US, Japan, Morocco and more, with a mix of feature films and documentaries showcasing stories that cross cultural boundaries.

Here are just five films that from the JFF schedule that you can expect:


In “Utama”, an elderly Quechua couple live a tranquil life in the arid Bolivian highlands. While Virginio takes their small herd of llamas out to graze, Sisa keeps house and walks for miles to fetch precious water.

When an uncommonly long drought threatens everything they know, they must decide whether to stay and maintain their traditional way of life or admit defeat and move in with family members in the city.

“Silence in the Dust”

After being diagnosed with advanced staged pneumoconiosis from working in a quartz powder factory in Guangdong, Dazhang returns to his hometown and shares the suffering with his entire family.

The 2022 Special Jury Prize and Taiwan International Documentary Festival Visionary Award-winning “Silence in the Dust” is directed by Li Wei.


Examines the life of a teacher who is sent back to the village where he was raised after being released from prison. He’s forced to re-jig his life in a community that he left behind, doing manual jobs that are alien to him.

“Music is My Life”

“Music is My Life” provides an engaging account of the life of Joseph Shabalala and his rise to international fame with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, including the group’s contributions to Paul Simon’s “Graceland”, which, despite defying the cultural boycott, went on to become one of South Africa’s most-loved albums.

“The Cloud and The Man”

Shot in soulful black and white, “The Cloud and the Man” explores Manik’s uneventful life. His father passes away one day and he is served a month’s notice to vacate the rented house.

Just when the world around him starts to fall apart, Manik meets someone that would change his life for good – a cloud.

A unique love story unfolds, propelling Manik on a roller-coaster journey of faith, betrayal, belief and warmth.