From Selma to Soweto: U.S. Filmmaker Shares Documentary to Mark 20 Years of Democracy in South Africa

Connie Field, center, with students from Cape Town’s Big Fish Film School
Connie Field, center, with students from Cape Town’s Big Fish Film School

Few people know the role American grassroots activists played in the anti-apartheid struggle.  For that reason, the U.S. Mission to South Africa invited award-winning American filmmaker Connie Field to South Africa from August 11- 22 to tour the country showing her 2010 film Have You Heard From Johannesburg and to engage with a broad cross-section of students, educators, and academics.  The film is a seven-part documentary about the global anti-apartheid movement and tells the stories of average citizens who engaged governments and civil society to bring about social change.  Episode Five, From Selma to Soweto, explores the connections between the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and the grassroots “Free South Africa” divestment movement in the United States during the Eighties.  It details the role everyday people played in one of the most important international social justice movements of the 20th century, helping to end the policy of apartheid in South Africa.

In Cape Town, Ms. Field screened her film in partnership with the University of Cape Town’s Department of Historical Studies and engaged in a substantive question and answer period with students.  She also taught two classes at the Big Fish Film School, visited a high school in Khayelitsha, and engaged officials from the Western Cape Office of Education.  In Gauteng, she engaged journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and showed her documentary at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.  She also travelled to the University of the Free State and the University of Venda to interact with students.

Connie Field with history learners at Kaelang Secondary School in Bloemfontein
Connie Field with history learners at Kaelang Secondary School in Bloemfontein

During a year when South Africa is celebrating 20 years of democracy and the United States is marking 50 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Connie Field’s visit helped the U.S. Mission to South Africa further illustrate the democratic principle that citizens can bring about change despite the attitudes and actions of governments.  It also demonstrated the power of film and the visual arts in capturing untold stories and preserving them for future generations.

For more information on films by Connie Field, please visit:www.clarityfilms.org.