Now, for something completely different. While previous picks spanned the horror and thriller genres, this time around we’re switching it up with a docudrama that may have been overlooked by many. It’s time to correct that. A particularly tough concept for students (middle school students at least) to understand is the fact that discrimination hasn’t fully disappeared and wasn’t all that long ago. Discrimination is more than apparent in
May’s Misbegotten Masterpiece: Richard Attenborough’s 1987 film Cry Freedom.
Production in South Africa stalled because of the magnitude of internal turmoil still going on at the time. As a result, Zimbabwe and Kenya had to substitute for the setting.
The premise of Cry Freedom revolves around the Apartheid rampant in South Africa at the time. Kevin Kline plays Don Woods, the editor of the East London Daily Express. Denzel Washington plays Steve Biko, an activist who seeks social reform and improve life for those stuck under the oppression of Apartheid. After becoming friends, Biko is arrested for his activism. Because of Biko’s arrest, and eventual death, Woods is then placed under house arrest. It’s not only Biko’s arrest but Woods that drives the plot of Cry Freedom forward.
While this story may not have impacted Americans at the time, it’s extremely timely especially now.
The truth about Steve Biko’s (and many other activists) death was suppressed at every possible turn. That a thirty year old film can carry such weight to this day speaks to the importance, as well as the responsibility of media. Unfortunately, not all media keeps this in mind as they present news. Soap box aside, this docudrama holds up well, and serves as an important reminder of the inequalities that so very recently have been a part of different cultures as well as the responsibilities that lie with reporting.