Skip to main content


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...


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 »


Made for television, "The Outcast" is another variant of the (white) South African genre of passionate family conflict and ... test of masculine prowess played against a background of natural beauty ... More »

Friendly Touchdown

A light-hearted report of the Wallaby Rugby team from Australia playing an international series in South Africa and seeing the country in terms of their individual interests. ... 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 »

u-carmen ekhayelitsha

Mark Dornford-May's [U-Carmen Ekhayelitsha] was awarded the Golden Bear at Berlin this year. It is based on Georges Bizet's [Carmen] (1875), one of the most popular operas in musical history. Merimee ... More »

The Face of South Africa

By imaginative use of photographs, the film shows many facets of the peoples of South Africa. In youth, adolescence and age, they are shown to us at leisure and work; in joy, sorrow and excitement. ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director