A film insight into South African culture

Over the last while, I’ve ended up watching a number of films covering life in South Africa from about the 1960s. All the films (except three) were released post-Apartheid and all, except three, were based on real events. What links them all together is their common story of humanity – discovering that the ‘other’ is human and have their own struggles to deal with on the road to recognition and acceptance. As someone who lived through much of this going through similar transitions, all these films resonated, including those events I was not aware of at the time. All credit to the actors and directors for the research they undertook to reflect the people they were representing as realistically as they did.

The Angel, the bicycle and the Chinaman’s finger (1992) – fiction (adapted from a theatre production which I saw at the time)

Beat the Drum (2003) – fiction

Cry Freedom (1987) – the Steve Biko and Donald Woods story

District 9 (2009) – science fiction (I saw this just before watching District Six – do the same, I need say no more)

District Six (2003) – fiction based on forced removals in Cape Town (film of theatre production which we saw when the stage show came to London; David Kramer is an incredible story teller and commentator on South African life) . A relook (Kanala) at the time was released in 2016 which is covered in the link.

Goodbye Bafana (2007) – Mandela’s prison guard’s conversion

In My Country (2004) – the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Invictus (2009) – South Africa’s 1995 Rugby World Cup win (and the poem) Sitting in the post-match traffic jam on our way somewhere, the atmosphere was something out of this world, leading me to think ‘South Africa is going to be all right’ – watching the film 11 years after its release made me realise how much Mandela and Louis Botha were similar personalities (although Jan Smuts and Mandela have more in common) and that South Africa lost two great leaders way before their work of reconciliation was done. Will we ever see such leaders again?

Katrina (1969) – The story of a Coloured woman having her true identity revealed and its consequences. Based on the novel Try for White by Basil Warner

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