Awards for Cape Town indies films and Oscar buzz for My Octopus Teacher

21 February 2021

Cape Town-based filmmakers are getting international recognition with two local films receiving awards.

Two other Cape Town-produced films are in the running for nominations at this year’s 93rd Academy Awards.

This acknowledgment is testament to the abundance of talent in the city as well as the world-class crews and beautiful locations they have at their disposal.

District Six Rising from the Dust

District Six Rising from the Dust, a Cape Town-produced documentary film by Tribal Alchemy Productions, showcases these aspects of the city.

The film tells the story of the District Six removals from the filmmaker’s personal standpoint and examines the intergenerational pain left by the Group Areas Act.

The authenticity landed the documentary “Best Original Story” award at the Tuscany-based Florence Film Awards.

District Six Rising from the Dust director Weaam Williams

Director Weaam Williams tells Film Cape Town it is encouraging affirmation that their work resonates with international film juries and finding audiences beyond South African borders.

“With District Six Rising from the Dust, it is a wonderful achievement. The film took six years to make and for it to be awarded internationally twice, means that my efforts have not been in vain,” Williams said.

The District Six story has been told many times before but Williams felt in order to do it justice, her film required a personal perspective.

“So it is the microcosm of my family’s dispossession within the macrocosm of the story of District Six. I believe District Six Rising from the Dust is an incredibly important film and should be viewed by young people in this country to understand where we come from, and also how we can move forward with respect to our past.”

Another of Williams’ films, Two Hues, won “Best Short Film” at Beyond the Curve International Film Festival in France.

The short film explores the artistic nature of a manic-depressive and also navigates the duality of patriarchy while challenging gender based violence.

Two Hues has also been nominated for Best Lead Actress in a short film and Best Director of a short film with Northern Europe Film Festival – London, which takes place in March.

My Octopus Teacher

The story of an unlikely bond between documentary filmmaker Craig Foster captivated audiences the world over when it launched on Netflix last year.

Now, the Cape Town-produced My Octopus Teacher has made the Oscar shortlist for Documentary Feature.

Speaking to CapeTalk’s John Maytham, Foster (Sea Change Project co-founder) said the film was a result of years of commitment.

Initially there were no plans to make a film, Foster said, but his intention was to explore the kelp forest in Simon’s Town and kindle a relationship with the Octopus.

It was only when footage of Foster’s deep sea exploration had been collected that a team from South Africa, Europe and America was assembled to produce the film.

“It’s a real team effort and it’s because of the passion of that big team that we have the film as it is,” Foster said who served as producer on the project.

“You need all these people specialised in their fields to really lift it up until it’s shining.”


One of Cape Town’s top animation studios Triggerfish Animation Studios, could also be up for an Oscar award in April.

The Snail and the Whale, an animated short film, has been shortlisted with nine others for “Animated Short Film”.

The collaboration between London-based Magic Light Pictures and Triggerfish made it from an initial list of 96 films.

It follows a tiny snail’s journey around the world on the tail of a friendly humpback whale. It was animated by Triggerfish and co-directed by Triggerfish’s Daniel Snaddon.