Artists' Television Access

Amandla: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony

Thursday, February 8, 2007, 7:30 pm

A.N.S.W.E.R. Film Series

Song is what keeps us alive.” — Lindiwe Zulu (Freedom Fighter)

The power of song to communicate, motivate, console, unite and, ultimately, beget change: That ideal, gloriously realized, lies at the heart of director Lee Hirsch’s inspiring feature film documentary. “Amandla!” tells the story of Black South African freedom music and reveals the central role it played in the long battle against apartheid. The first film to specifically consider the music that sustained and galvanized Black South Africans for more than 40 years, It is unlike any other film yet made on the subject of apartheid, and an electrically expressive portrait of South African life then and now.

To tell the story of this music, Amandla! turns to the people of South Africa itself. Among those featured in intimate interviews are the renowned musicians who helped expose the suffering of Black South Africa to the world, In addition to the songs themselves, Amandla! retrieves a stunning bounty of archive footage, some of it never before seen. Culled from a variety of sources, the footage describes the brutal arc of apartheid: the forced removals of Black South Africans to wretched, government-built townships; the institution of onerous pass laws; and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. As the white government grew increasingly repressive and violent in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, freedom songs responded, urging the fight on. A new combination of dance and song, the toyi-toyi, became a potent weapon in taking on the police. 2002, 108 min, South Africa/USA

PLUS a special presentation by Leonard Xasib, who participated in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. He is currently a co-host of KPOO 89.5FM Prison Focus Radio. Leonard Xasib became politically active after the death of Steven Biko in 1977 and moved on to write and teach freedom songs to the masses. Since his student years, Leonard operated on all levels of the resistance struggle. The stages of the movement’s militancy can be measured through the song — as the struggle intensified, the songs called for more commitment. Song became a tool of direction and education that had the power to sweep the most backward layers of society along. The toyi-toyi reflected the willingness of ordinary youth to make the ultimate sacrifice. Leonard will give a short presentation before the film — discussion will follow the screening. Search for grocery stores. Find gratitude. Turn a simple search into something more.