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South Africa, 1988 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Oliver Schmitz

Theatre and stage director/writer Thomas Mogonane has gathered a cast of experienced black television and stage actors for Mapantsula and probably the films greatest strength lies in its ability to depict the whole range of black lives in a manner we've never been privy to before;

'Panic' is a black African petty thief living in Soweto, the black township outside Johannesburg, yet indifferent to die political struggle of his people A selfish man with little respect For anyone, he has (somehow) managed to sidestep political issues thus far, living a relatively comfortable life from the proceeds of his stock in-trade, purse snatching Eventually he pays a high price for his political naivete, but the dawning may not have come too late.

Co-writers Oliver Schmitz (the South African born son of a German émigré family) and Thomas Mogotiane (a black South African) have chosen an unlikeable black anti-hero as their central character in this remarkable film, the first open attack on apartheid made by South Africans in South Africa, with an interracial cast and crew, a white South African director and co-writer, a black co-writer who also stars, and executive producers from Britain and Australia!

The film, which was made under the noses of Johannesburg officials is an unexpected, unprecedented example of anti-government filmmaking created by blacks and whites together within South Africa, as opposed to anti-apartheid films produced elsewhere. In order to get the film made, the producers cleverly decided to do everything by the book, submitting all necessary scripts and shooting applications to the officials in the accepted manner - then went ahead and shot the intended film on those same locations.

See also...

South African Mosaic

Against the vista of modern South Africa this film tells of the four main races &ndash: their origin work, education, religion, welfare and recreation. ... More »


Mapantsula was the first anti-apartheid feature film by, for and about black South Africans. Filmed inside Soweto, Mapantsula tells the story of Panic, a petty gangster who spends his days grafting ... More »

The Storekeeper

An elderly man owns an isolated general store in rural South Africa. After suffering a series of burglaries which culminate in the murder of a night-watchman the storekeeper finally takes the law ... More »


A bold allegory on The Last Supper, Zimbabwean-born multimedia artist Kudzanai Chiurai's Iyeza is an absorbing, powerful piece of cinematic painting exploring the violence at the heart of what ... More »

The Fox Has Four Eyes

This is the story of tribal witchcraft, ritual, murder,and the frenzied efforts of a bereaved father to avenge the killing of his daughter. This becomes his obsession, and his determination finally ... More »


A delightful moral tale about the meaning of trust and friendship, Sankambe introduces us to the dynamic duo of the rabbit Sankambe and Muzhou the Jackal. ... More »

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