Recommended Films and Videos


Cry the Beloved Country

VHS and DVD 111 minutes
PG-13 Director: Darrell James Roodt

Set in South Africa in the 1940s, Cry the Beloved Country is the story of a black South-African preacher who goes in search for his wayward son who has committed a crime in Johannesburg. The film is often criticized for not indicting the oppressive state’s role in the crime; however, the film still portrays the racial inequalities and hardships of being black in early-apartheid South Africa.
More information from the African Media Project:

Girls Apart

VHS 40 minutes
Director: Chris Sheppard and Claude Sauvageot

Girls Apart tells the story of two teenage schoolgirls – one black, one white – but both South African. The contrasts between the two girls’ lives, emphasized by the film’s interviews and exploration of daily habits, illustrate the magnitude and restrictiveness of apartheid.
More information from the African Media Project:

Last Grave at Dimbaza

VHS 55 minutes
Director: Nana Mahomo

Shot illegally and smuggled out of the country, Last Grave at Dimbaza exposes the oppressive living and working conditions of 18 million blacks as opposed to the conditions of the 4 million whites who rule over them in 1974 South Africa. This documentary had enormous impact on exposing the plight of South Africans to international audiences.
More information from the African Media Project:

Maids and Madams

VHS 53 minutes
Director: Mira Hamermesh

Filmed secretly using local crews, Maids and Madams examines apartheid, sexism, and racism through the emotional relationships between the black household worker and white employer. Interviews with female workers and employers give this documentary a unique perspective on apartheid.
More information from the African Media Project:

South Africa Belongs to Us

VHS 35 minutes
Director: Peter Chappell, Chris Austin, Ruth Weiss

In South Africa Belongs to Us, a wife left behind in the homelands, a hospital cleaner, a public health nurse from Soweto, a domestic servant, and a leader of a squatters' camp battle for human dignity in the face of apartheid. Made in 1980, this film still provides one of the best introductions to the daily violence wreaked by apartheid on African family life and the social fabric.
More information from the African Media Project:

Struggle Against Apartheid

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony

VHS and DVD 103 minutes
PG-13 Director: Lee Hirsch

Amandla! recounts the history of the anti-apartheid struggle from 1950-1990’s by examining different freedom songs. Particularly valuable for its interviews, archival footage, and filmed performances, the film shows that music was crucial not only in communicating a political message to protesters and opponents but also in strengthening the resistance itself.
More information from the African Media Project:

Generations of Resistance

VHS 52 minutes

Although filmed in 1980 and thus lacking the mass demonstrations of the 1980’s, this documentary traces one hundred years of organized resistance movements against colonization and apartheid by white and black South Africans. Invaluable archival footage and interviews with key freedom fighters make this film stand out.
More information from the African Media Project:

Mandela: Son of Africa, Father of a Nation

VHS and DVD 118 minutes
Director: Angus Gibson and Jo Menell

This documentary combines interviews with Mandela, anti-apartheid songs, archival footage, newsreels, and contemporary footage to illustrate the life of Nelson Mandela, from his youth to his election as president of South Africa.


VHS and DVD 104 minutes
Director: Thomas Mogotlane and Oliver Schmitz

Through a series of flashbacks experienced by the imprisoned protagonist, Panic, Mapantsula portrays one man’s transformation into an empowered dissident against apartheid. Mapantsula was the first anti-apartheid feature film for, by, and about black South Africans and gives an excellent introduction to township life and culture under apartheid.
More information from the African Media Project:

Witness to Apartheid

VHS 58 minutes
Director: Sharon Sopher Producer: Inc. Developing News

Filmed secretly during the State of Emergency, Witness to Apartheid focuses on South African youth who were tortured and detained during this era. The film documents multiple human rights violations, offering one of the best accounts of the violence of the South African police responses to the people’s uprisings.
More information from the African Media Project:

You Have Struck a Rock

VHS 28 minutes
Director: Deborah May

You Have Struck a Rock examines “women’s campaigns” of the 1940-1960’s and highlights women of all colors working against apartheid as an integral contribution to the liberation struggle.
More information from the African Media Project:

Truth and Reconciliation

Long Night's Journey into Day

VHS and DVD 94 minutes
Teachers Guide Available:
Director: Deborah Hoffman and Frances Reid

Spanning a two-year period, Long Night’s Journey into Day follows four cases of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, providing background to the crimes as well as interviews with the victims and perpetrators. The film illustrates the enormous divisions that South Africa must overcome in the post-apartheid era.
More information from the African Media Project:

Contemporary South Africa

Red Ribbon around My House

VHS 26 minutes
Director: Portia Rankoane

Part of the 25-episode Steps for the Future series, Red Ribbon around My House explores the mother’s refusal to accept the social ostracism that often plagues South Africa’s HIV/AIDS patients. The film focuses on the relationship between the HIV-positive mother and her embarrassed daughter, illustrating how the AIDS crisis affects family members and everyday life.
More information from the African Media Project:

Road to Riches

VHS and DVD 57 minutes
Director: Mandy Jacobson

An episode of PBS’s Wide Angle series, Road to Riches explores the need for economic black empowerment in post-apartheid South Africa, using the Uthigo national lottery as a starting point. A ten-minute preview clips is available online, along with many other resources:
More information from the African Media Project:

The Swenkas

72 minutes
Director: Jeppe Rønde

A group of Zulu men in Johannesburg who call themselves "Swenkas" compete for cash and prizes each Saturday night in an event that's part fashion show, part choreography, and part moral code.

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