Independent Lens: Have You Heard from Johannesburg? – “Free at Last”

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Independent Lens: Have You Heard from Johannesburg? – "Free at Last"

Thursday, Jan. 26, 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.

Diving into the heart of the conflict, South Africans tell the story of the most important effort in the anti-apartheid campaign of the 80’s: the alliance that brought together freedom fighters in South Africa as never before. A mass movement gains unprecedented momentum when three generations of resistance fighters band together as The United Democratic Front (UDF). Faced with growing international isolation, the apartheid government tries to win allies and convince the world of the merit of its piecemeal reforms even as it struggles to suppress open revolt, at times using savage and secret tactics. The UDF protests climax in a fierce campaign of defiance, and internationally, Nelson Mandela becomes a household name as the campaign to free him ignites a worldwide crusade. Caught between an unstoppable internal mass movement and ongoing international pressure, the apartheid regime is finally forced to the negotiating table and at last lifts the decades-long bans on the ANC. After twenty-seven years in prison, Nelson Mandela is released, sparking a global celebration as he tours the world to thank all.