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More than a decade after the inauguration of Nelson Mandela, South Africa is slated to become the host of the World Cup — a public affirmation of its break with its violent legacy of apartheid. But while the founding Freedom Charter of the African National Congress (ANC) outlined ideals for “a better life for all,” harsh inequalities still exist, from xenophobic attacks to corruption scandals and township protests. As a new decade looms, post-apartheid South Africa is at a crucial and dangerous crossroads. With the 2009 presidential election as a backdrop, BEHIND THE RAINBOW gives a previously untold account of the country's political problems, struggles, and realities.

Nelson Mandela as a young man, posing for the camera in a suit jacket and collared shirt

BEHIND THE RAINBOW explores the transition of the ANC from a liberation organization into South Africa’s ruling party, through the evolution of the relationship between two of its most prominent veterans, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Exiled under apartheid, they were once brothers in arms. Under Mandela’s administration, they loyally labored to build a non-racial state. Now, they are bitter rivals. Their duel threatens to tear apart the ANC and the country, as the poor desperately seek hope in change and the elite fight for the spoils of victory.

The film features key interviews with ANC current and former leaders, including Jacob Zuma, Kgalema Motlanthe, Pallo Jordan, Thabo Mbeki, and Terror Lekota. Examining previous events that the country’s political decision-makers have agreed to bury for the sake of democracy, BEHIND THE RAINBOW is a behind-the-scenes look at South Africa's seemingly miraculous transformation.


In January 2010, filmmaker Jihan El-Tahri provided an update on what some of the people featured in BEHIND THE RAINBOW have been doing since filming ended.

Because of all the changes in the political landscape which are covered in the film, many of the people interviewed for the film are now in new positions:

Jacob Zuma is the president of South Africa.
Thabo Mbeki has turned to academia.
Victor Moche, sadly, died in December 2009.
Mesioua Lekota is the leader of a new political party called Congress of the People (COPE).
Siphiwe Nyanda is now the minister of communications.
Pallo Jordan is ambassador to the United Nations.
Sue Rabkin continues to work at the ministry of defense.
Ronnie Kasrils and Kader Asmal have retired.
Mac Maharaj is a Special Advisor to Jacob Zuma.

Related Links and Resources

BEHIND THE RAINBOW: Filmmaker website
Get screening info and view pictures on the filmmaker’s site.

Keep up with the latest news about the film on Facebook.

Big Sister Productions
Discover more about the work of filmmaker Jihan El-Tahri.

Read about the making of BEHIND THE RAINBOW >>

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