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Ladysmith Black Mambazo doccie leads the 2023 Joburg Film Festival program

The Joburg Film Festival has announced its 2023 roster of feature-length films selected, led by a must-see South African doccie 'Music Is My Life', based on the late Joseph Shabalala's rise to global fame - along with his multi Grammy winning band Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Presented in partnership with MultiChoice, a new slate of 60 plus must-watch independent films from across the globe selected as part of the official program for the rebranded 2023 Joburg Film Festival (JFF) were unveiled Wednesday (December 7).

Following a two-year Covid hiatus, festival organisers announced in September, the much-anticipated return of one of South Africa’s revered film festivals, which will kick off in earnest from Tuesday, January 31 (2023) and will be rolled out across various locations in Johannesburg for a period of five days, ending on Sunday, February 5.

Curated by a globally respected team of film experts, led by Beirut-based Zimbabwean-born Keith Shiri and well-known industry expert Jack Chiang, over 60 films from over 35 countries across the globe, including 27 South African premieres will be showcased.

60 plus films from over 35 countries across the globe will be showcased.

The festival line-up includes never-before-seen films from Tunisia, Brazil, Seoul, Brazil, USA, Japan, Morocco and more, with a mix of feature films and documentaries showcasing stories that cross cultural boundaries.

The festival will also play host to a number of stars, producers and directors, who will conduct and host a series of skills development and empowerment workshops for budding film creatives, this is in addition to Q&A sessions after select screenings across the programme, along with daily red carpet premieres allowing fans the opportunity to meet the favourite film stars.

The 2023 JFF program will also include a selection of  films from the the Africa Film Heritage Project,a partnership between  the Federation of of Pan African Filmmakers (FEPACI), Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project along with its affiliate archive, the Cineteca di Bologna, and UNESCO. The aim of the project is to restore and preserve 50 African films with historical, cultural and artistic significance. 

“The Joburg Film Festival offers a multicultural international standard cinema experience for film lovers young and old, right in the heart of Joburg,” JFF executive director Timothy Mangwedi said, adding: “Not only does the festival showcase thought-provoking and debate-stoking films from around the world, but also brings back the nostalgic storytelling from yesteryear via this selection of films being screened. Everyone is welcome to join the celebration.”

Five-time Grammy winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s doccie ‘Music Is My Life’ leads a slate of film selected as part of the 2023 Joburg Film Festival.

Affirming MultiChoice’s on-going support of the JFF, the group’s corporate affairs executive head, Collen Dlamini, said this is simply another way MultiChoice uses the power of entertainment to enrich lives – by way of showcasing compelling local and international stories.

“We also get behind programs and initiatives like the Joburg Film Festival to further support the dissemination of quality content, further feeding our audience’s love for film and television,” Dlamini added.

Festival screenings will take place in various cinemas in Soweto, Maboneng, Sandton and Rosebank. Tickets will be on sale from January 9, 2023 via Quicket.

The long list of exceptional titles includes the multi-award winning 2022 feature film ‘Utuma‘, set in the Bolivian highlands and tenderly portraying an elderly Quechua couple going through  the difficulties of everyday life.

Also screening is the 2021 feature ‘Miss Osaka‘, shot in Denmark, Norway and Japan and with a touching storyline that follows a young lady as she searches for the answers to life and finds herself along the way. 

Also screening is the 2021 feature ‘Miss Osaka’, shot in Denmark, Norway and Japan.

Also featured is a true coming of age story, ‘A Far Shore‘, a 2022 Japanese film about a poverty stricken, underage mother dealing with an abusive husband. 

South African doccie ‘Music Is My Life‘ offers an engaging account of the life of Joseph Shabalala and his rise to international fame with his band Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Another notable film highlights include:

  • Surviving Gaza‘, a local feature depicting the life and struggles of Phuzi and his friends living in the lawless Gaza, who dream of Kwaito stardom.
  • The premiere of proudly South African feature ‘Time Spent With Cats is Never Time Wasted‘ (watch below) is based on one man’s life dream to construct his own helicopter.
  • Under The Fig Trees‘ (shot in five countries including Tunisia, France, Switzerland, Germany and Qatar) follows the lives of young women working the summer harvest. 
  • Role‘, a South American documentary centred on the on-going Brazilian protests that have taken place in malls across the country as young people  protest against the violence of security guards and shopping mall employee, is another highlight. And so is the much-hyped Dutch animation, ‘Oink‘.

For a full listing of the films to be screened at the festival, visit

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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