Independent Lens: Have You Heard from Johannesburg? – “From Selma to Soweto” and “The Bottom Line”

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Independent Lens: Have You Heard from Johannesburg?

Thursday, Jan. 19, 9 p.m. & 10 p.m.


Filmed throughout the world over the course of more than ten years, Have You Heard From Johannesburg? is the definitive cinematic history of the worldwide effort to destroy South African apartheid. A story that has never been told in any medium before and featuring interviews with dozens of the major players, this formidable accomplishment is anything but dry and academic: it’s a lively, tension-filled, heartrending, and ultimately thrilling portrait of an unprecedented global movement that forever changed a nation and the world. From acclaimed filmmaker Connie Field, this epic five-hour, five-film history will stand as the final word on how a violent, racist, intractable government was destroyed by the concerted efforts of men and women working on multiple fronts inside and outside South Africa for more than three decades. Have You Heard From Johannesburg? will premiere on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Mary Louise Parker.


"From Selma to Soweto"9 p.m.

Long one of South Africa's most important and powerful allies, the United States becomes a key battleground in the anti-apartheid movement as African Americans lead the charge to change the U.S. government’s policy toward the apartheid regime. Strengthened through years of grassroots organizing during the civil rights movement, black leaders and their allies take the campaign to corporate boardrooms, universities, embassies, and finally to Congress itself, where a stunning victory is won against the formidable opposition of President Ronald Reagan. African Americans alter U.S. foreign policy for the first time in history, and the U.S. — once the backbone of support for apartheid South Africa as its ally in the Cold War — finally imposes sanctions. European sanctions follow, and with them, the political isolation of the apartheid regime.


"The Bottom Line" – 10 p.m.

This is the story of the first-ever international grassroots campaign to successfully use economic pressure to help bring down a government. Recognizing the apartheid regime’s dependence on its financial connections to the West, citizens all over the world — from employees of Polaroid to student account-holders in Barclay’s Bank to consumers who boycott Shell — refuse to let business with South Africa go on as usual. Boycotts and divestment campaigns bring the antiapartheid movement into the lives and communities of people around the world, helping everyday people understand and challenge Western economic support for apartheid. Faced with attacks at home and growing chaos in South Africa, international companies pull out in a mass exodus, causing a financial crisis in the now-isolated South Africa and making it clear that the days of the apartheid regime are numbered.