Mandisa Zitha who is currently Festival Director of the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, completed her BA (Film and Media Studies majoring in Documentary, UCT) in 2005; and assumed the reins of festival working there between 2007- 2012 until the pressures of a growing family dictated more regular hours. After a 5-year stint at UCT (Alumni Officer); she joined WESGRO as a Manager (Strategic Projects), but her love of the documentary genre saw her return to the position of Festival Director at Encounters in 2019. Zitha is an ambassador for the SA film industry.

She was one of the Mail and Guardian’s 2011 Top 100 Women for the Arts and Culture Sector; has spoken at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2007; The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in Greece; sat on the Main Jury, Tempo Documentary Festival, Sweden in 2010, was on the jury of the BBC My World Competition and panellist on GZDOC 2020 (China) – “How International film festivals and markets plan their post pandemic returns”.

Zitha has been instrumental in building Encounter’s partnerships with: Sichuan TV Festival in China; the French Embassy on the first Africadoc SA writing residency; and the 2012 partnership with Al Jazeera English, which saw 20 African documentaries pitched to the global broadcaster. In her current role, Zitha is committed to the development of emerging talent in the documentary industry. In 2020, Zitha was awarded the Mbokodo Award (SA), ‘Women in Media’ category.