About the Film
Have You Heard From Johannesburg is a five-part chronicle, airing over three weeks, of the history of the global anti-apartheid movement that took on South Africa’s entrenched apartheid regime and its international supporters who considered South Africa an ally in the Cold War.
Almost 50 years ago, South Africans began to realize that their freedom struggle had to be built in four arenas of action: mass action, underground organization, armed struggle, and international mobilization. These documentaries take viewers inside that last arena, the movement to mobilize worldwide citizen action to isolate the apartheid regime.
Inspired by the courage and suffering of South Africa’s people as they fought back against the violence and oppression of racism, foreign solidarity groups, in cooperation with exiled South Africans, took up the anti-apartheid cause. Working against heavy odds, in a climate of apathy or even support for the governments of Verwoerd, Vorster, and P.W. Botha, campaigners challenged their governments and powerful corporations in the West to face up to the immorality of their collaboration with apartheid.
This was not just a political battle; it was economic, cultural, moral, and spiritual. The struggle came to many surprising venues: it was waged in sports arenas and cathedrals, in embassies and corporate boardrooms, at fruit stands and beaches, at rock concerts and gas stations. Thousands died, but in the end, nonviolent pressures played a major part in the collapse of apartheid and thus in the stunning victory of democracy in South Africa.
The combined stories have a scope that is epic in both space and time, spanning most of the globe over half a century. Beginning with the very first session of the United Nations, and ending in 1990 – when, after 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, the best-known leader of the African National Congress (ANC) toured the world, a free man.
January 12, 2012 (check local listings)
Episode One: The Road to Resistance
As the U.N. adopts the Declaration of Human Rights, South Africa heads in the opposite direction and implements apartheid. A mass movement is born, then crushed, and Nelson Mandela is jailed for life. The future of the movement is now on the shoulders of Oliver Tambo, who escapes into exile and begins a 30-year journey to engage the world in the struggle to bring democracy to South Africa.
Episode Two: The New Generation
Youth in South Africa and around the world are next to join the growing movement against apartheid, and the brutal suppression of a youth uprising in Soweto galvanizes public support for sanctions against South Africa.
January 19, 2012 (check local listings)
Episode Three: Selma to Soweto
African Americans alter U.S. foreign policy for the first time in history, successfully pressuring the U.S. to impose sanctions and politically isolate Pretoria.
Episode Four: The Bottom Line
International grassroots campaigns against Polaroid, Shell, Barclay’s, General Motors, and others doing business in South Africa economically isolate the apartheid regime and become the first successful efforts to use economic pressure to help bring down a government.
January 26, 2012 (check local listings)
Episode Five: Free at Last
An uprising in South Africa becomes the final blow in the cumulative world effort to topple apartheid. Nelson Mandela becomes a household name as the campaign to free him ignites a worldwide crusade.
Connie Field has worked on numerous dramatic and documentary films as well as independently producing her own work. Her Oscar-nominated documentary Freedom on My Mind (1994) is a history of the civil rights movement in Mississippi. She was a director on Forever Activists (1990 Academy Award nominee), and she produced, directed, and edited the feature documentary The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1981), which is listed in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Her 2007 film ¡Salud! documented Cuba’s role in the struggle for global health equity. She is a recipient of the John Grierson Award as most outstanding social documentarian, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.