In October 1963, Nelson Mandela and nine other leaders of the banned African National Congress appeared before the Pretoria High Court in the apartheid state of South Africa. This diverse group of fighters against apartheid included members of various African peoples, white Jewish South Africans, and an Indian Muslim, all of whom were accused of sabotage and potentially faced the death penalty. While there are no images of the nine-month trial that followed, the 256 hours of audio recorded include some of Nelson Mandela’s most fiery declarations of faith. After the tapes were restored by the French National audiovisual Institute in 2012, French journalist Nicolas Champeaux and director Gilles Porte decided to use them as the basis for this documentary about the trial that led to sentences of life imprisonment for Mandela and his comrades but proved to be a watershed moment in the national and international resistance to racist segregation. Using dramatic charcoal animation to illustrate the trial tapes and contemporary interviews with survivors and witnesses including Winnie Mandela to comment on the events, Champeaux and Porte have created a galvanizing account of this battle against injustice, with subtle reminders that the fight is not over yet.
Quartus de Wet