Documentary films present us with unique perspectives and insights into our worlds. The crafting of these films present unique challenges and encourage thoughtful insights into their making. The Rough Cut Lab (RCL) aims to support South African films in the late offline story stage with directed consultation on story and character obstacles as well as close consideration into the workings of the film. Successful candidates receive targeted support from the Refinery when they eventually come to finishing. A maximum of three South African projects, consisting of one director and one editor, will be selected to spend three days working on their film with consultancy from world class editors. In the interest of local industry up-skilling preference may be given to less experienced and privileged filmmakers in order to gain interaction with mentors and to develop the language of the editors involved.

In partnership with Refinery Cape Town, South African Guild of Editors (SAGE), the Encounters South African International Documentary Festival and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), South African filmmakers are invited to submit their films for the 3rd Encounters Rough Cut Lab to be held remotely from 29 May until 12 June 2021. This call is only open to projects with a working rough cut. Up to 70% of the rough cut must be completed prior to the lab. If a director’s project has been chosen the previous year, they are not eligible to enter the RCL with a new project in the following year. Submissions that do not follow the strict submission criteria will be disqualified.

Submission criteria:

• One-page synopsis.

• Director and editor’s biography.

• Online screener link and password to the viewable rough cut

• One page each from the director and editor outlining the difficulties currently experienced with the film’s current structure and / or problematic areas in the story. Please include what has been achieved up to this point.

• Films need to be independent and feature length - 70 mins or above.

• All available footage accessible on a USB 3 or firewire hard drives.

• Please indicate software used.


Deadline: Please send submissions before 4pm (SAT), Friday 16 April 2021 to: with Rough Cut Lab 2021 in the subject line.




SAGE is a non-profit company