Simon Wood is an Emmy nominated filmmaker based in Cape Town, South Africa. His films place a strong emphasis on visual aesthetics creating dreamlike realities blurring boundaries between fact and illusion. Wood’s films have screened at the worlds largest film festivals and won numerous awards in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
Wood’s latest film ‘Container’, will World Premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival. A VR180 collaboration with Indian artist Meghna Singh, Container makes visible the 'invisiblized' bodies enabling our consumer society. Confronting slavery through an ever transforming shipping container, the past becomes the present, the invisible become visible. We witness the shards of society: the ghosts of the past and living spectres of the modern world.
In 2020, Wood was the recipient of the World Press Photo ‘Online Video of Year’ award for Scenes from a Dry City. The film was produced by by Academy Award Winner Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cooke at Field of Vision. Scenes from a Dry City premiered in competition at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and had its U.S premiere in 2019 winning the Best Mini Doc at the Academy qualifying Big Sky Festival in Montana. In June 2019, the film was awarded an honourable mention by the American Film Institute at AFIDOCS. Since its premiere the film has screened at over fifty festivals, winning recognition from juries across the globe, culminating in an Emmy nomination in August 2020 for Outstanding Short Documentary.
His previous film The Silent Form won four awards including Best Documentary Short and Best Cinematography at the 2017 SAFTAS (South African Film and Television Awards). This capped a successful year for the film which had its world premiere in Toronto at Hot Docs. The Silent Form is a collaboration between Wood and one of South Africa’s most successful artists, the sculptor Dylan Lewis. Forging the artist and the filmmaker together as a mode of conceptual modelling, playing into the world of interpretations and reinterpretation, we witness a filmmaker visualising the sculptors work and in turn giving birth to a new creation.
This was the second year running that Wood had a film selected for Hot Docs following his 2015 film ‘Orbis’. Shot in twenty eight continuous days Orbis is a hypnotic journey through one of South Africa’s largest townships, Umlazi, its inhabitants’ existence shaped by their proximity to Africa’s largest port, Durban. The port oversees material endlessly circling the globe, temporarily shaped as fridges, televisions, washing machines, ultimately destroyed, returned to its creator, reshaped into a new product. In 2018 Orbis was awarded The Golden Ribbon award for best international documentary by CCTV in Beijing .
Wood’s first film Forerunners was selected for IDFA in 2011: it’s an ancestral examination of four members of South Africa’s new black middle class as they delicately balance the traditional views of their childhood with the western consumerism that rules their professional lives, selecting and discarding elements from each world to forge a new legacy for their descendants. The film garnered awards in North America and Europe and was screened on Al Jazeera’s Witness strand 30 times.
Wood’s next feature documentary ‘Untamed’ is currently in post production was selected for the Final Cut at the Venice International Film Festival and IFP’s Spotlight on Documentaries for Independent Film Week in New York City.
‘Container’ 2021 World Premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival 2021. Awarded a National Geographic Explorers grant.
‘Untamed’ 2021 (Post Production) Selected for the Final Cut in Venice (75th Venice International Film Festival) . Also supported by the IFP (Spotlight on documentaries 2017) Received NFVF Post Production Grant in 2017
‘Scenes from a Dry City’ World Press Photo 'Online Video of the Year' 2020, Emmy Nomination 'Outstanding Short Documentary' World Premiere in competition at IDFA 2018 co directed with Francois Verster, Produced by Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cooke at Field of Vision. Winner Best Mini Doc at The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. 'Honourable Mention' at AFI DOCS 2019, Featured at Full Frame 2019, Hot Docs 2019, San Francisco International Film Festival 2019, Dallas International Film Festival 2019, Aspen Shorts 2019 and a 'Vimeo Staff Pick' after its online premiere.
‘The Silent Form’ World Premiere Hot Docs 2016, Winner of 4 South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAS) including Best Documentary Short, Best Cinematography (Simon Wood), Best Editor and Best Sound Design
'Orbis’ International Premiere Hot Docs 2015, Winner ‘Golden Ribbon’ for Best International Short Documentary CCTV Beijing 2018, Winner 2 SAFTAS, Winner Golden Tree International Documentary Festival Best Documentary Short Frankfurt 2017, Screened at Vision du Reel 2017
'Forerunners' - IDFA 2011 (Best of the Fests), UNAFF San Francisco 2011, Winner Best Cinematography, Festival International Du Film Panafricain Cannes 2011 Jury Prize.