In celebration of twenty years of South Africa’s democracy, the IFF launches its African Oral History Archive (AOHA) initiative to pay tribute to those who lie at the heart of the events that shaped South Africa’s modern history. The film is the first of a series of political and historical documentaries produced by the foundation that will roll out this year and will be showcased for the first time on African soil at the Durban International Film Festival, which takes place from July 17 to 27. It has been seen in commercial cinemas in France, UK and Spain thus far.
This acclaimed documentary lands off the back of a successful tour of the international film festival and commercial circuit, winning eight awards including Best International Feature Documentary at the 25th Galway Film Festival and the Special Jury Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
The production team is led by multiple Emmy award-winning, South African filmmaker Mandy Jacobson. The team uncovered the secret story of Jean-Yves Ollivier, aka ‘Monsieur Jacques,’ whose behind-the-scenes bargaining was instrumental in bringing about regional peace and heralding the dawn of South Africa’s long walk to freedom.
Exclusive interviews from current and former heads of state include President Joachim Chissano, Thabo Mbeki, President Denis Sassou Nguesso and other key role-players including Winnie Mandela, Pik Botha, Jorge Risquet and Chester Crocker. They bear vivid testimony to the secret dealings that secured regional peace and ended the system of segregation that threatened to bring South Africa to its knees.
“In this narrative, we discover a story that Jean-Yves Ollivier kept secret for over thirty years. It was like finding a character straight out of a John le Carre novel and we were thus able to craft this true life historic story as a political thriller,” said Producer and Director Mandy Jacobson.
Because of his contribution to democracy, Jean-Yves Ollivier received one of South Africa’s highest honours twice, the first time by last stalwart of apartheid, PW Botha and the second time by the first President of the new South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
Ichikowitz notes, “The inspiration for this film emerged from hundreds of hours of original testimony around the liberation of South Africa gathered by the AOHA and demonstrates the importance of documenting our continent’s acclaimed and unknown history makers. Subscribing to best journalistic practice, the organisation adopts no single point of view in its work, but rather, provides the raw material for open storytelling, the hallmark of democratic societies.”
Fresh off the DIFF circuit, the film will move to Johannesburg for a one-week theatrical release at the Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank starting on Friday 1 August and running until Thursday 7 August 2104. Tickets will be available online and at the cinema.
For more information, go to www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/2014/documentary-films.