Maverick Life

Maverick Life

Encounters Film Festival launches with drive-in screening of Influence

Influence at the Encounters drive-in, hosted by Storyscope.

Despite its best efforts, the months-long Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa could not prevent cineastes from joyfully returning to the big screen — with a twist. In Johannesburg on Wednesday night, against all odds, the 2020 Encounters South African International Documentary Festival opened with a screening of the Bell Pottinger exposé, Influence.

As cars rolled in to park in front of the giant outdoor drive-in screen in Kyalami, Johannesburg, moviegoers tumbled out to touch elbows after almost six hard and dreary months of lockdown and isolation.

Despite many setbacks and delays, the 2020 Encounters South African International Documentary Festival opened on August 19 with a drive-in premiere of the much-anticipated political documentary, Influence, hosted by the film’s South African production company, Storyscope.

Possibly the weirdest film premiere in recent South African history, and with lockdown restrictions still in place, it was nonetheless a packed house — or, rather, parking lot.

The rest of this year’s Encounters festival will be online, with all films accessible for free between August 20 and 30. Influence will be available to watch for a limited audience on August 28, alongside more than 70 other local and international titles.

The South African portion of the co-production behind Influence: Directors Richard Poplak and Diana Neille with Storyscope team, executive producer Thandi Davids, Lauren Clifford-Holmes, producer Neil Brandt and Laura Colucci.

Moviegoers set up a picnic in the back of their car ahead of the Encounters Film Festival premiere of Influence.

Moviegoers take a selfie in front of the drive-in screen in Kyalami, at the Encounters film festival premiere of Influence, hosted by Storyscope.

Cars parked in anticipation of the drive-in premiere of Influence at the Encounters film festival.

Moviegoers at the drive-in premiere of Influence in Kyalami, as part of the Encounters film festival.

Influence directors Richard Poplak and Diana Neille toast the South African premiere of Influence, at the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival on August 19, 2020.

A full-house of cars at the Drive.In.Co Roadhouse in Kyalami in anticipation of the Encounters film festival premiere of Influence.

The best view in the house at the Encounters drive-in premiere of Influence.

A cold night for a drive-in, but that didn’t dampen the vibe.

Moviegoers at the drive-in premiere of Influence, hosted by Storyscope, which opened the 2020 Encounters film festival.

Influence at the Encounters drive-in, hosted by Storyscope.

The best view in the house at the Encounters drive-in premiere of Influence.

For more information about Influence, click here. DM/ ML

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