Reviews for April 14th, 2010
Have You Heard From Johannesburg
Directed by Connie Field.
This captivating documentary, separated into three parts and a total of seven different chapters, charts the historic events that led up to the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa. In 1948, apartheid began when the South African government implemented laws that segregated blacks and whites by force throughout the country. Leaders of the anti-apartheid African National Congress, such as Nelson Mandela, were sent to jailed back then, while hundreds of others went into exile. Mandela was jailed again in 1964 and was released in 1990 before the subsequent end of apartheid. Many factors played a part in reaching that much-awaited abolishment of apartheid including protests, the Soweto Uprising, economic sanctions, an international sports boycott of the Olympics, Oliver Tambo’s work as an anti-apartheid activist/politician, Desmond Tutu’s work as an ant-apartheid activist who strongly supported the divestment of stocks of large corporations that do business in South Africa. Students at universities such as Columbia courageously staged protests that pressured their college to divest in those corporations. Director Connie Field goes into great detail about each of those events and more while including insightful archival footage of interviews with many of the activists such as Tambo and Tutu themselves. Each of the interviews is fascinating and, fortunately, filled with articulate interviewees who know how to vividly describe their experiences during the apartheid. As you watch the seven chapters of this documentary, you’ll feel as though you’re watching a riveting thriller as the heroism of the activists/politicians of South Africa come closer and closer into fruition amidst all the struggles and bloodshed taking place in the country. As you observe generations young and old becoming a part of the resistance against apartheid, you’ll realize how important it is for the people to gather together to speak their minds without euphemisms while being fully aware of the fascism, evils and horrors taking place in South Africa. While it’s a step-by-step process for a government to close a democracy, it’s conversely a much slower and difficult step-by-step process for the public to re-open the democracy to liberate its county. Every American should watch this documentary because it serves as an urgent reminder that there’s still hope for a country to escape its dictatorship rule as long as public awareness persists along with resistance, protests and other forms of activism amongst its masses. What if America were to be under the rule of a dictator? If you’ve read Naomi Wolf’s The End of America or you’re an intelligent citizen fully aware of the fascist tactics used by the American government against its own people (especially during the George W. Bush regime), that’s not such a big “what if?” At a total running time of eight-and-a-half hours, Have You Heard From Johannesburg is a well-researched, vital, provocative and inspirational documentary that’s equally informative, captivating and moving. Number of times I checked my watch: 0 Released by Clarity Films. Opens at the Film Forum.