"Have You Heard From Johannesburg": The Long Story of a Long Revolution

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

“Invictus” isn’t the only recent film to look at apartheid and the complicated legacy it left in South Africa. But unlike Clint Eastwood and his cast, Connie Field has taken the documentary route in “Have You Heard From Johannesburg,” a series of seven films that will have its world premiere this week at Film Forum in Manhattan.

Clocking in at eight and a half hours, “Have You Heard From Johannesburg,” which takes its title from a line in a 1976 song by Gil Scott-Heron, is meant to inspire and inform, not just entertain.

“I come from a perspective where nothing is neutral, but which recognizes that it is very important to have multiple perspectives,” said Ms. Field, whose earlier projects include the acclaimed 1981 film “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter.”

Ms. Field has been working on the “Johannesburg” project since the mid-1990s, when she finished “Freedom on My Mind,” a documentary about the civil rights movement in the United States that was nominated for an Academy Award. She said she had originally conceived of a four-hour television series, but after her first trip to South Africa in 1996 she gradually came to realize that a much richer and complex tale was waiting to be told.

The struggle against apartheid was not just a South African story, she said, but also had an international component. That led her to focus on the relationship between the domestic South African anti-apartheid movement and its allies abroad, and took her to places like the United States, Britain, the Netherlands and Norway....

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