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A Dry White Season (1989)A Dry White Season (1989)

A Dry White Season (1989)

A grizzly portrait of the cruel brutality of apartheid in 70s South Africa

Drama, Mystery

7.2

movie

United States of America

Afrikaans, English, Zulu

Instructive, Thought-provoking, Well-acted

1989

Euzhan Palcy, Female director

David de Keyser, Donald Sutherland, Ernest Ndhlovu

107 min

Synopsis

During the 1976 Soweto uprising, a white school teacher's life and values are threatened when he asks questions about the death of a young black boy who died in police custody.

Our Take

7.2
Igor Fishman

Ben du Toit (Donald Sutherland) is a patriarch of an upper-class white family insulated from the roiling protests and violence in their suburban household outside of Johannesburg. When his gardener’s son is arrested, du Toit’s complacency is tested and he becomes embroiled in the devastating political reality outside the comforts of his gated world. 

Although it falls into the somewhat blemished category of films that center white protagonists when covering Black struggle, it does so with a piercing critical lens that confronts white denial and complicity. Euzhan Palcy’s direction is striking, depicting racism and violence with uncompromised clarity, while her unfettered dedication to getting this made even brought Marlon Brando out of retirement. Keep an eye out for him playing a beleaguered civil rights attorney – a role which notched him his final Academy Award nomination. 

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