June 22, 2021
The Ladima Foundation has awarded the The Adiaha Award 2021 for Best Documentary Film by an African woman to Zinder, a powerful film by filmmaker by Aïcha Macky. The jury also awarded a Special Mention to Faya Dayi by Jessica Beshir.  

The Ladima Foundation has awarded the The Adiaha Award 2021 for Best Documentary Film by an African woman to Zinder, a powerful film by filmmaker by Aïcha Macky. The jury also awarded a Special Mention to Faya Dayi by Jessica Beshir.  The award was presented at this year’s 23rd Encounters South African International Documentary Festival.

Aïcha Macky, is a filmmaker from Niger as well as a sociologist and is most notable as the director of critically acclaimed documentary The Fruitless Tree.  Born in 1982 in the Republic of Niger, Aïcha Macky earned a Master in Sociology and in Documentary Filmmaking at Gaston Berger University in Sénégal. Her debut short was Moi et ma maigreur / Me and My Yhinness, about the thin body perception of the inhabitants of Niger.  Jessica Beshir is a Mexican-Ethiopian director, producer and cinematographer based in Brooklyn. She made her directorial debut with her short film, Hairat, which premiered at Sundance in 2017 and was released by the Criterion Channel, Topic and The Atlantic.

This year’s jury included film practitioners from across Africa: Theresa Hill (Manager, STEPS, South Africa), Cornelia Glele (journalist, filmmaker and blogger, Benin), and Shameela Seedat (Fulbright scholar and filmmaker, South Africa).


The jury issued the following statement:

The jury was highly impressed with the overall selection of films – they encompassed a variety of aesthetic styles and were told in creative, brave, insightful and moving ways.

For its powerful and engrossing deep-dive into the life and struggles of young people in the streets of her marginalised home town, this year’s Adiaha Award goes to Zinder by Aïcha Macky. The director paints a compelling, unadorned and humane portrait of a harsh and neglected corner of the world, providing a non-judgmental and trusting space for her characters to reflect on their own choices and on the social inequity and spirals of violence that pervade their lives.

The jury has also decided to award a SPECIAL MENTION to Faya Dayi by Jessica Beshir.  This mesmerising work pushes the visual and aural potential of cinema to startling effect, presenting an immersive and exquisite tapestry of a place and its characters, and the personal, economic and political effects of the khat trade on their lives.


Mandisa Zitha, Festival Director’s statement:

This year for the Adiaha award, we had a wonderful line-up of character-focused African films, made by women tackling difficult subjects. We congratulate the winning film by Aïcha Macky, Zinder, and the special mention to Faya Dayi by Jessica Beshir; two exceptional films. The Adiaha award brings visibility and supports the careers of African women filmmakers. We are extremely grateful for the partnership with Ladima Foundation and hope the Award will inspire other talented African women directors.

The winner of the 2021 Award will receive $2000 towards their next production and an invitation to attend the Dortmund Cologne International Women’s Film Festival 2022 in Germany, where their film will be screened.

Now in its 23rd year, The Encounters South African International Documentary Festival had another successful hybrid edition, celebrating the latest and greatest in African and international documentary filmmaking, cementing its place as the premier documentary festival on the continent.

The Adiaha Award is just one of the interventions of the Ladima Foundation aimed at supporting and developing women working in film, television and content creation across Africa. Other initiatives include the Ladima Film Academy for professional training and development; the African Film Festival Network; and the A-List, a social community, network and database aimed at connecting women professionals from across Africa. To learn more about these and other Ladima Foundation initiatives, visit

The Ladima Foundation and Encounters will also partner on training and development initiatives for women documentary filmmakers in the near future. Follow our social media platforms for more information:



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