RFK in the Land of Apartheid: A Ripple of Hope
The film has an intense emotional impact. It conveys wonderfully the character of Robert Kennedy: the mixture of courage, empathy and a curious element of self-mockery -- the sly grin at himself. In addition to portraying Kennedy at one of the signal times of his life, it leaves this viewer with an aching sense of what we lost with his death. It also gives a grim, compelling picture of what apartheid South Africa was like. Iíll add another word about courage. I do not think there was another political figure, American or otherwise, who would have gone into Soweto and plunged into the crowd as he did. Anthony Lewis, former New York times reporter and op-ed columnist.
This film is a reminder why Robert Kennedy was the real deal. When he went to South Africa, he wasnít doing it for the publicity. He wasnít doing it to win the black vote at home. He was doing it because he wanted to learn about it for himself, and he wanted to speak out against apartheid. It was the kind of thing politicians almost never do Ė a simple and good thing, without any tangible reward at the end. Lisa Pease, US historian.
For the millions of South Africans who are enjoying the fruits of democracy, participating in shaping the destiny of their country and future generations, this film is a stark reminder that democracy comes at a price. This is a film about courage, the rekindling of the spirit of a nation to continue the fight for justice. Dr. Zandile Matchaba, Albert Lutuliís granddaughter.
I remember Robert Kennedy's visit to South Africa in 1966 very well. I was in political detention at the time and the news of it gave me cause for great optimism and hope. This documentary is a wonderful tribute to the event. It is beautifully crafted, capturing the moment exquisitely and allowing the momentum to build and the story to reveal itself. I liked the intercutting between the protagonists then and now. David Barkham, Activist in South Africa in 1966.
As someone who was personally involved in, and effected by, Robert Kennedyís visit to South Africa, I can attest to the authenticity of the film. It is a terrific documentary, full of interest and variety, wonderfully paced, and scattered with fascinating nuggets of information and flashes of humor and pathos. It really captures the visit, the man, the place, and the time. Ian Robertson, former NUSAS president in 1966.
It is a moving documentary. The highlight of RFK's visit was when he met the late Chief Albert Luthuli who was the president of the ANC at that time. The president of the ANC was a strong leader who could not be ignored and the visit put the ANC in the forefront of the struggle at a very difficult time. The film is a must see for all of us to be reminded that people came together to fight the evil system of Apartheid. It took all of us to stand up for justice and democracy. Godfrey Silhole, ANC member in exile in 1966.
Its a powerful and inspirational film which evoked so many memories and emotions that I had long buried or tried to forget. This movie will stay with me for a long time. Robert Kennedyís warmth, humanity, vision, humility and intelligence were very poignantly portrayed. I was also left with enormous admiration for all those South African heroes who you interviewed (and didnít interview), who sacrificed so much and never gave up the struggle to bring about the end of apartheid. Mark Damelin, high school student in Johannesburg in 1966.
I screened the rfk film in my class on the Civil Rights era. The students enjoyed it tremendously and it inspired a lively discussion among my students about the connections between the civil rights movement in the US and the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Students were especially intrigued by the meeting between Robert Kennedy and Chief Albert Lutuli and immediately saw parallels between Chief Lutuli's leadership and that of Martin Luther King. Since the population of students I teach often have limited knowledge about history, they were especially energized by seeing the live footage of historical figures. The website that accompanies the film is a very rich resource. Carole K. Harris, Dept. of English, New York City College of Techn.
Totally relevant, inspiring, heartbreaking. Congratulations. Helen Hunt, actress
A most impressive and memorable film! As someone who knows a fair amount about South Africa, but didn't know about RFK's trip, much less its impact, I'm amazed that in 5 days he got to as many places, and saw the range of people, that he did. Altogether a wonderful and wonderfully educational film. The opening paragraph of RFK's UCT address is priceless! Gregory Finnegan, Boston
Everyone I know who saw the film thought it very powerful. I was at RFKís Wits event and it was electric. The film really captures the fact that RFK made a connection with the people of South Africa that even the longtime local anti-apartheid whites could not do to any great extent, at least overtly. It is striking that despite the absence of TV and State controlled radio, the word spread so fast. Dr. Pattie Suzman, Helenís Suzmanís daughter, Boston.
I was a Unitarian minister in Cape Town at the time of Bobby Kennedyís visit. Life in South Africa for those with any conscience was morally and intellectually stifling: a room with all the windows nailed shut. Then came Bobby Kennedy! It was as if those windows were suddenly thrown open and the 20th century roared in. For those wonderful days the South African Government could do nothing right and he could do nothing wrong. The wind of freedom was palpable. Thank you for recapturing those most memorable moments. Rev. Victor Carpenter, Unitarian Minister in Cape Town in 1966.
I wanted to tell you how wonderful the film is. It's a fantastic story, and you tell it with great insight and delicacy. The intertwining of the SA and USA stories was done that way too--gently suggestive, without being overdone. Wonderful too was the pacing--both in the original events (a different era) and in the movie. Kennedy came through beautifully, and I think we saw how, if it was a life-changing event for many South Africans, it was too for him. You captured his character so well, and the scenes at Groutville with Chief Lutuliís daughter were very moving. The editing was excellent too, and of course the final image, of the memorial stone with his words from South Africa, left a real echo. Stephen Clingman, South African-American Professor at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
This is an extraordinary film. Enlightening, touching, funny, and ultimately profoundly sad. It chronicles the journey of Robert Kennedy to apartheid-era South Africa, a geographical journey for Bobby indeed, but also very much a journey of the heart and soul. The filmmakers have unearthed and woven together wonderful footage to educate and rouse us about many important moments in history, spanning the globe from the civil rights movement in the United States to the banning of Chief Albert Lutuli in South Africa. Here, Robert Kennedy can be seen as a bringer of hope and inspiration to a country in the grip of despair and institutionalized bigotry. I believe this film should be seen by every high school student in our country as a tale of historic courage, conviction, heroism, and evil. And if anyone has forgotten or does not know what a deep and lasting loss our country suffered when Robert Kennedy was killed, this will remind us. Eliza Lewis, Boston.
I screened RFK... last night and I was very impressed. It's so on in terms of its mission to revisit that now forgotten historical moment of RFK in South Africa and tease out the impact, implications and nuances of it. And then of course there is the incredible footage you uncovered--amazing: I especially enjoyed the Chief Lutuli footage... and in another sense l I loved the moment with the woman in Soweto, as recounted in archival footage, and in the memory of her daughter speaking to the camera. Rico Speight, New York filmmaker.