Director: Zola Maseko
Screenwriters: Jason Filardi

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


In one of the most accomplished films to come from South Africa in a long time, Zola Maseko completes his 10-year effort to bring 1950s Johannesburg to the screen with remarkable grace and tremendous gratitude to producer Dumisani Dlamini who passed away a few weeks before the film was finished. Based on a true story, the film focuses on young journalist Henry Nxumalo, played by the superb Taye Diggs, who works and plays hard while writing for the historic black magazine Drum. But encroaching on his tantalizing world is apartheid, spreading more and more rapidly into Sophiatown, the last bastion of interracial hipsterdom. Nxumalo goes undercover in several tricky situations to get the cover story, all the while balancing his home life and ambition. But his safety is more and more at risk on the job and off as apartheid gains momentum.

With a stunning supporting cast, including Moshidi Motshegwa, Maseko paints a sensual and uneasy portrait of 1950s Johannesburg, starkly contrasting indulgence against the threat of impending injustice. As Nxumalo's undercover journalism unearths more and more examples of abuse, viewers realize that there may be no hope in the near future, except for the moment when Nxumalo encounters a young Nelson Mandela, just starting out to forge South Africa's future.

— Bird Runningwater

Screening Details

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