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HISTORY

The Summary and credits for this unviewed film are derived from documents in AMPAS library files, and may not reflect what appears onscreen.
       Funding for the film was provided by PBS, the Catholic Communication Campaign, the Episcopal Church, Friends of Harry Belafonte, the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, the Lutheran Church of America, and the United Methodist Church.
       Witness to Apartheid screened in competition at the American Film Festival, 27 May-1Jun 1986, and received the festival's Red Ribbon Award. The film also received an Academy Award nomination in the category Best Documentary Feature for the year 1986.
       According to David Chute's 6 May 1986 LAHExam review, "The picture was slammed together in four months" by former NBC [National Broadcasting Company] news producer Sharon I. Sopher. According to a 3 May 1986 LAT article by John Voland, Sopher shot with a three-man crew moving around in an unmarked van. At one point she and her crew were detained by South African police and some of their footage was confiscated.
       The 11 Mar 1987 Var stated that the film had been banned in South Africa. The 1 Apr 1987 Var reported that the South Africa Publications Appeals Board had lifted the ban, allowing the film to be shown to audiences of no more than 200, and aged over 18. Filmmaker Sharon I. Sopher was quoted as saying, "Before I agree that the ban has been lifted, the South African government must remove all restrictions."
       The film was screened at New York City's Town Hall theater, 18-19 Apr 1986. It was
also included at ... More Less

The Summary and credits for this unviewed film are derived from documents in AMPAS library files, and may not reflect what appears onscreen.
       Funding for the film was provided by PBS, the Catholic Communication Campaign, the Episcopal Church, Friends of Harry Belafonte, the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, the Lutheran Church of America, and the United Methodist Church.
       Witness to Apartheid screened in competition at the American Film Festival, 27 May-1Jun 1986, and received the festival's Red Ribbon Award. The film also received an Academy Award nomination in the category Best Documentary Feature for the year 1986.
       According to David Chute's 6 May 1986 LAHExam review, "The picture was slammed together in four months" by former NBC [National Broadcasting Company] news producer Sharon I. Sopher. According to a 3 May 1986 LAT article by John Voland, Sopher shot with a three-man crew moving around in an unmarked van. At one point she and her crew were detained by South African police and some of their footage was confiscated.
       The 11 Mar 1987 Var stated that the film had been banned in South Africa. The 1 Apr 1987 Var reported that the South Africa Publications Appeals Board had lifted the ban, allowing the film to be shown to audiences of no more than 200, and aged over 18. Filmmaker Sharon I. Sopher was quoted as saying, "Before I agree that the ban has been lifted, the South African government must remove all restrictions."
       The film was screened at New York City's Town Hall theater, 18-19 Apr 1986. It was
also included at the Creteil [France] Women's Film Festival which took place 11-19 Mar 1989. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
LAHExam
6 May 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 May 1986
Calendar, Page 2.
Los Angeles Times
5 May 1986
Calendar, p. 2.
New York Times
27 May 1986.
---
New York Times
9 Dec 1986.
---
San Francisco Examiner
30 Apr 1986
Section E, p. 1, 6.
The Milwaukee Journal
22 Oct 1986.
---
Variety
11 Mar 1987
p. 43.
Variety
1 Apr 1987
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Co-dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photograph
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SOUND
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 April 1986
Premiere Information:
San Francisco opening: 30 April 1986 at the Roxie Theater
Los Angeles opening: 6 May 1986 at the Nuart Theater
Production Date:
1985
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
gauge
16mm
Duration(in mins):
56
Length(in feet):
2,200
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The film documents a period of civil unrest in South Africa, highlighting protests that occurred in the black townships in 1985, and police and army brutality toward black South African youth, some as young as four years old, during what the government called the "State of Emergency." A black undertaker recounts burying thirty-four children shot by police, while other blacks display their scars and describe their imprisonment and torture. On the other hand, white South Africans appear indifferent to what their government is doing out of sight, and one woman suggests that only a massacre of blacks will solve the country's problems. When the filmmaker interviews a father and brother of a murdered fourteen-year-old boy, South African police briefly detains her and her crew. The film incorporates television news footage and interviews with South African President Pieter Botha, Nobel Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Winnie Mandela, leader of the outlawed African National Congress (ANC). "Near the end of the film," according to The Milwaukee Journal television-radio critic Mike Drew, "we see 40 armed troops closing in on [Sharon I.] Sopher before the screen goes dark. Then an artist depicts the producer's capture and questioning. Somehow, she talked authorities into releasing her, and letting her keep her ... +


The film documents a period of civil unrest in South Africa, highlighting protests that occurred in the black townships in 1985, and police and army brutality toward black South African youth, some as young as four years old, during what the government called the "State of Emergency." A black undertaker recounts burying thirty-four children shot by police, while other blacks display their scars and describe their imprisonment and torture. On the other hand, white South Africans appear indifferent to what their government is doing out of sight, and one woman suggests that only a massacre of blacks will solve the country's problems. When the filmmaker interviews a father and brother of a murdered fourteen-year-old boy, South African police briefly detains her and her crew. The film incorporates television news footage and interviews with South African President Pieter Botha, Nobel Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Winnie Mandela, leader of the outlawed African National Congress (ANC). "Near the end of the film," according to The Milwaukee Journal television-radio critic Mike Drew, "we see 40 armed troops closing in on [Sharon I.] Sopher before the screen goes dark. Then an artist depicts the producer's capture and questioning. Somehow, she talked authorities into releasing her, and letting her keep her film." +

GENRE
Genre:


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.