Have You Heard from Johannesburg?: Apartheid and the Club of the West (2010)




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HAVE YOU HEARD FROM JOHANNESBURG -- Episode SynopsesROAD TO RESISTANCE 58 minutesAs the United Nations adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, South Africa heads in the opposite direction, implementing a system of laws called apartheid to racially segregate its people in every aspect of life. The black majority in South Africa, led by the African National Congress (ANC), mounts a non-violent campaign of defiance, attracting the attention of activists in Britain, Sweden, and the United States - and sowing the seeds of an international movement. The world reacts with horror when protesters are gunned down in the town of Sharpeville and the entire ANC leadership is forced underground or imprisoned. Nelson Mandela is jailed for life and the movement in South Africa is effectively shut down as hundreds escape into exile.HELL OF A JOB 58 minutesANC Deputy President Oliver Tambo escapes into exile and embarks on what will become a 30-year journey to engage the world in the struggle to bring democracy to South Africa. With resistance inside South Africa effectively crushed by the brutal apartheid regime, the fate of the liberation struggle is now in Tambo's hands. He first finds allies in the newly independent countries of Africa, and with their collective strength behind him, he approaches the U.N. for support, insisting that the apartheid government can be forced to the negotiating table if the Security Council will sanction and isolate the regime. But the western powers refuse to act, forcing Tambo to search for new support. He successfully petitions the Soviet Union for help in building a guerilla army, a decision that lands Tambo in the vice of the Cold War and haunts his global efforts for years to come.But two individuals help to open crucial doors in the West: Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden, and Bishop Trevor Huddleston, whose early support inspires Tambo to seek out strategic partnerships with faith leaders worldwide. As a new decade dawns, Tambo has financing from Sweden and support from the World Council of Churches, whose members in congregations around the world join the fight against apartheid. With powerful new allies on his side, Tambo has the beginnings of a worldwide movement.THE NEW GENERATION 58 minutesIt is youth, both inside and outside, who next join the growing movement against apartheid. Buoyed by new support in western countries, Oliver Tambo returns to the United Nations to try to convince the world body to sanction South Africa. His efforts gain new public support as the brutal suppression of a youth uprising in the South African township of Soweto and the murder of freedom fighter Steve Biko turn South Africa from a country into a cause, a worldwide emblem of injustice. A significant victory is won when the United Nations issues a mandatory arms embargo: the first in history. But South Africa's strongest trading partners in the West still will not sanction it economically. and as Tambo heads to Zambia to minister to the ANC's growing guerrilla army, a bloodbath seems inevitable. But even as the most powerful western governments refuse to heed Tambo's calls for cultural and economic boycotts, the citizens of those western nations will help turn the tide. FAIR PLAY 90 minutesFaced with governments reluctant to take meaningful action against the apartheid regime, athletes and activists around the world hit white South Africa where it hurts: on the playing field. International boycotts against apartheid sports teams help bring the human rights crisis in South Africa to the forefront of global attention and sever white South Africans' cultural ties to the West. Knowing that fellow blacks in South Africa were denied even the most basic human rights - let alone the right to participate in international sports competitions -African nations refuse to compete with all-white South African teams, boycotting the Olympics and creating a worldwide media spectacle that forces the International Olympic Committee to ban apartheid teams from future games. The Africa-led coalition leads the fight to exclude South Africa from soccer, boxing, track, cycling, judo, fencing, gymnastics, volleyball and numerous other competitions, barring South African teams from nearly all sports events by the 1970s. Only South Africa's world champion rugby team remains, and citizens in key western countries where rugby is played take to the fields to close the last door on apartheid sports. The sports campaign becomes the anti-apartheid movement's first victory and succeeds in culturally isolating the white minority in an arena of passionate importance. FROM SELMA TO SOWETO 90 minutesLong one of South Africa's most important and powerful allies, the United States becomes a key battleground in the anti-apartheid movement as African-Americans lead the charge to change the government's policy toward the apartheid regime. Strengthened through years of grassroots organizing during the civil rights movement, black leaders and their allies take on U.S. foreign policy on South Africa, directing campaigns in corporate boardrooms, universities, embassies, and finally in the U.S. Congress itself, where a stunning victory is won against the formidable opposition of President Ronald Reagan. African-Americans alter U.S. foreign policy for the first time in history, and the U.S. - once the backbone of support for apartheid South Africa as its ally in the Cold War - finally imposes sanctions on Pretoria. European sanctions follow, and with them, the political isolation of the apartheid regime. THE BOTTOM LINE 86 minutesThis is the story of the first-ever international grassroots campaign to successfully use economic pressure to help bring down a government. Recognizing the apartheid regime's dependence on its financial connections to the West, citizens all over the world, from employees of Polaroid to a General Motors director, from student account-holders in Barclay's Bank to consumers who boycott Shell gas, all refuse to let business with South Africa go on as usual. Boycotts and divestment campaigns bring the anti-apartheid movement into the lives and communities of people around the world, helping everyday people understand and challenge Western economic support for apartheid. Faced with attacks at home and growing chaos in South Africa, international companies pull out in a mass exodus, causing a financial crisis in the now-isolated South Africa and making it clear that the days of the apartheid regime are numbered.FREE AT LAST 75 minutesDiving into the heart of the conflict, South Africans tell the story of the most important effort in the anti-apartheid campaign of the 80's: the alliance that brought together freedom fighters in South Africa as never before. A mass movement gains unprecedented momentum when three generations of resistance fighters band together as The United Democratic Front (UDF). Faced with growing international isolation, the apartheid government tries to win allies and convince the world of the merit of its piecemeal reforms even as it struggles to suppress open revolt, at times using savage secret tactics. The UDF protests climax in a fierce campaign of defiance, and internationally, Nelson Mandela becomes a household name as the campaign to free him ignites a worldwide crusade. Caught between an unstoppable internal mass movement and ongoing international pressure, the apartheid regime is finally forced to the negotiating table and at last lifts the decades-long bans on the ANC. After twenty-seven years in prison, Nelson Mandela is released, sparking a global celebration as he tours the world to thank all. After 30 years in exile, Oliver Tambo is finally able to return to South Africa. But the struggle has taken a heavy toll on him and he will die one year before his comrade, Nelson Mandela, is elected the first black president of a democratic South Africa.-- (C) Film Forum
Documentary , Special Interest
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Clarity Films


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Critic Reviews for Have You Heard from Johannesburg?: Apartheid and the Club of the West

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (3)

Connie Field's documentary on apartheid and its defeat is a triumph of maximalist filmmaking.

Full Review… | April 14, 2010
Village Voice
Top Critic

The value of Field's film is in how it shows the snowball effect of persistent protest: Hate eventually buckled, though the melancholy of the movie's final passages suggests there's much more injustice to bring to light.

Full Review… | April 14, 2010
Time Out
Top Critic

The documentary's rousing thesis is that American economic pressure can transform a nation halfway across the globe and do it in the name of liberty and equality.

Full Review… | November 2, 2007
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

An extraordinary documentary achievement that must be seen by anyone who's interested in world politics, current affairs, and in the art and process of nonfiction filmmaking.

Full Review… | May 27, 2010

How sports boycotts around the world helped bring about the collapse of apartheid..

Full Review… | May 5, 2010
Film Journal International

Rich detail on the decades of remarkable fortitude and proud persistence of grassroots participants in the global struggle for the fall of apartheid.

Full Review… | April 22, 2010

Audience Reviews for Have You Heard from Johannesburg?: Apartheid and the Club of the West


Kind of boring if you don't care for educational programming, but if you are looking for some good info on the subject of segregation, and South Africa, and stuff this is the place, it's better than reading I guess.

Ted Burnson
Ted Burnson

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