joburg film festival

The award-winning documentary on Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Joseph Shabalala, ‘Music is My Life’ is one of the Joburg Film Festival’s highlights. Image: Supplied

Five of the best: Joburg Film Festival highlights [watch]

With 60 top films to choose from, it’s a no-brainer as to why the Joburg Film Festival is recognised as Africa’s premier film festival.

joburg film festival

The award-winning documentary on Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Joseph Shabalala, ‘Music is My Life’ is one of the Joburg Film Festival’s highlights. Image: Supplied

The fifth edition of the popular Joburg Film Festival (JFF) runs from Tuesday 31 January to Sunday 5 February. The annual film festival, presented by Multichoice and which takes place in various venues in Johannesburg, will be showcasing some of the finest films from more than 35 countries across the globe, including 20 African and 27 South African premieres.

The festival provides young and emerging filmmakers with various opportunities for development, training, skills transfer, and networking.

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Take a look at our top-five round-up of the Joburg Film Festival offering with the award-winning documentary Music is My Life about the late Joseph Shabalala from Ladysmith Black Mambazo topping the list.

The gripping doccie includes interviews with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Paul Simon and Whoopi Goldberg. Not to be missed!

Five Joburg Film Festival highlights

‘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 breaking defying the cultural boycott, went on to become one of South Africa’s most-loved albums.

Filmed over five years, the documentary gives unprecedented access to the singer’s life and creative process.

The film details Shabalala’s life, from his early years in rural South Africa to Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s global success, as a multi Grammy award-winning music group.

Grammy winners: Joseph Shabalala, centre, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Image via Twitter @RockersMovement

He rose to international stardom with his band Ladysmith Black Mambazo, following the band’s contributions to Paul Simon’s massively successful Graceland album.

Shabalala passed away in 2020 at the age of 79.

The film also documents the history of the ‘isicathamiya’ genre of music, and the man who took it to the world’s stage.

In 2022, the film walked away with second prize in the Best Music and Dance film category at Art & Tur International Tourism Film Festival in Portugal, according to 702.

ALSO READ: Burna Boy teams up with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on upcoming album


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.

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‘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. 

 Silence in the Dust, directed by Li Wei,  won the 2022 Special Jury Prize and Visionary Award at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival.


Shimoni 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. 

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‘The Cloud & 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 rollercoaster journey of faith, betrayal, belief and warmth.

Get more information on the Joburg Film Festival and where to buy tickets HERE.