Rare audio recordings alongside animated courtroom sketches bring to life the Rivonia trial in this enthralling snapshot of a pivotal chapter in Mandela and his co-defendants’ fight against apartheid.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
Through the prism of the Rivonia Trial, which handed down life imprisonment sentences to Nelson Mandela and nine other defendants in 1963, filmmakers Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte throw the spotlight on the epic struggle against apartheid. Cameras were not permitted in court, but the whole trial was audio recorded – some 256 hours’ worth. Key figures – defendants, their wives, their lawyers, the prosecutor’s son – spurred by the trial’s proceedings, which they listen to through headphones, recall events and the period. We also participate in crucial moments during cross-examinations: the dignity and reasoned statements by the defendants are devastating. The audio recordings are accompanied by black and white animation, bringing the voices to life, which intermingles with archival footage, to powerful effect. — SR
“[In] this… absorbing, uplifting documentary… Mandela’s landmark speeches remain intensely stirring… but the film’s winning card is fresh interviews with an impressive range of key figures from around the trial including Winnie, lawyers George Bizos and Joel Joffe, defendants Denis Goldberg, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and his former girlfriend Sylvia Neame…
The people interviewed are sharp and witty, carrying their heroism lightly and revealing a strength of character that sustained them through lengthy imprisonment and beyond. All of them devoted their lives to what they believed to be right and seem all the more admirable for acting without the comforting knowledge of knowing that history would be on their side.” — Allan Hunter, Screendaily