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April 2004
Film Festival: Ten Years of Freedom

Coming out this week is  "Ten Years Of Freedom - Films from the New South Africa," which is the biggest event in the US marking the 10 years since Nelson Mandela was elected. This was the first free and democratic election in the nation's history.  It was also a remarkable moment in twentieth century history. The festival will be in New York April 27 - May 2 at the Clearview on Broadway and 62nd Street.

Ten Years of Freedom: Films from the New South Africa, presented with the support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is a full scale film festival in New York. The week-long events will be the largest celebration in the United States commemorating the 10th anniversary of the election of Nelson Mandela, which marked the death of apartheid and inaugurated the first 10 years of South African freedom. Americans have long been inspired by the South African struggle for freedom, and as the tenth anniversary of its victory approaches, South Africa continues to energize people who are committed to true democracy everywhere.

The festival will feature 43 films over six nights. The films will includedocumentaries, features, shorts, and animation, highlighting the work from a new generation of South African filmmakers. They include world, U.S. and New York premieres. A number of events are planned around the festival: a gala opening at the Schomburg Center in Harlem on April 26th; a special screening at the American Museum of Natural History; an AIDS benefit; an all-day symposium at NYU featuring panel discussions on South African issues; a free program for local schools; a photography exhibition, and more.

The festival opens to the public on April 27th, South African Freedom Day. Films featured in the festival: "A Lion's Trail," the story of one of the most recorded song in history "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" which left its originator penniless after an American songwriter stole the rights,"Guguletu Seven," an investigation of the killing of seven black men in apartheid South Africa; "Karoo Kitaar Blues," a delightful trip into the world of South African music in the tradition of "The Buena Vista Social Club"; "Cosmic Africa," about the first black South African astronomer Thebe Medupe (presented with the Hayden  Planetarium at the AMNH LeFrak Theater--the astronomer will be present for a Q&A session); and "The Sky in her Eyes," a short film about a young girl coping with losing her mother to AIDS.Ten Years of Freedom is principally organized by Sean Jacobs, a political analyst and journalist, and a South African citizen; Danny Massey, project coordinator of The Documentary Campaign and a producer of the critically acclaimed Sundance-selected film "Persons of Interest"; and Emmy-award nominated screenwriter and filmmaker Lawrence Konner. The festival's co-presenting organizations include: The Documentary Campaign, The American Museum of Natural History, the South African National Film and Video Foundation, the New York State AFL-CIO, New York University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the South African Consulate-General New York, Shared Interest, and Virgin Atlantic Airways, among others.Tickets are $10, student tickets are $8.

Here are some notable films that will be at the festival

Born into Struggle

Dir: Rehad Desai

South Africa/2004

In English

70 min., color, video

A Special Work in Progress World Premiere Screening

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 9:00pm

Sunday, May 2, 2004, 2:30pm

A complex story of political exile and a son trying to find his place in the new South Africa
Rehad Desai, a South African filmmaker, departed South Africa as an infant, with his politically exiled family bound for England, where he became an activist following the Soweto uprising of 1976. He returned home in 1990 with his well-known father, who is soon negotiating the transition with the apartheid regime. After his father's death in 1997 Rehad fell into grief and depression. South African liberation combined with the death of his father are precursors to Rehad’s grasp of a newfound political and creative freedom

Through an almost brutally intimate portrait of one family, “Born into Struggle” achieves a searching meditation on the complexities of political exile and return.

Q&A with director to follow.

Karoo Kitaar Blues

Dir: Liza Key

South Africa/2003

In English and Afrikaans, with subtitles

60 min., color, video

North American Premiere

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 7:00pm

Saturday, May 1, 2004 10:00pm

A South African “Buena Vista Social Club”

“Karoo Kitaar Blues” is a rousing documentary about a group of wildly talented but utterly isolated musicians who eventually come to tour South Africa to rapturous crowds.

In the Karoo, a spare and desolate swath of South Africa, tobacco farms, cattle ranches, and bare plains dominate a landscape populated by white landowners and poor, Afrikaans-speaking, “colored” farm workers. In their isolation, these workers evolved a unique musical style played on homemade instruments, the Karoo kitaar blues. In this film, part music documentary and part road movie, musician David Kramer seeks out the Karoo’s hidden artists, offering a rare glimpse into a distant social and musical world.

Wa ‘N Wina (Sincerely Yours)

Dir: Dumisani Phakathi

South Africa

In English, Sotho and Zulu, with subtitles

52 min. color, video

Friday, April 30, 2004 1:30pm

A conversation about sex in Soweto

Filmmaker Dumisani Phakathi returns to his old neighbourhood. With a camera on his shoulder, he engages with friends to discuss relationships, sex, and love. Strong characters like Phumla and Timothy expose their emotions as they talk intimately about the realities of their street and the choices they have been forced to make. It’s a rock and roll journey that both reveals the gaps between everyday life and AIDS campaigns that often talk past the very people they are supposed to address and people’s will to survive in the age of AIDS.

Q&A with director to follow

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony

Dir: Lee Hirsch


In English, Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans with subtitles

108 min., color, 35mm

Sunday, May 2, 2004 10:00pm

A joyous celebration of South African freedom music

The power of song to communicate, motivate, console, unite and, ultimately, beget change lies at the heart of “Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony,” winner of the Audience Award and Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

“Amandla!” celebrates the freedom music that sustained and galvanized black South Africans through more than forty years of struggle against racist white rule. It is an expressive portrait of South African life, a chronicle of the country’s struggle, and most of all a love song to its music, featuring inspiring performances by Vusi Mahlasela, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and others.

Q&A with director to follow

The Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela

Dir.: Thomas Allen Harris


In English

6 min., color, video

A Special Work-in-Progress Trailer Screening

Thursday, April 29, 2004 9:00pm

Friday, April 30, 2004 9:30pm

The year is 1960 and the South African government has just outlawed the African National Congress, forcing its leaders underground or into exile. This is the story of the first wave of South African exiles, members of the ANC youth league, who left their home in Bloemfontein to broadcast to the world the inhumanity of apartheid. Their mission, to raise support for the African National Congress and its leaders, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo. Together, they created their version of an "underground railroad" that thousands would follow, leaving South Africa for freedom in Tanzania.

For more information on the festival, go to  http://www.tenyearsoffreedom.org

If you are press and would like to speak to any of the filmmakers, please contact:

Diana Peters
Director, Film Division
Rogers & Cowan
640 Fifth Avenue, 5th Fl
New York, NY 10019
P: 212-445-8413 F: 212-445-8290


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