Returning to DVD this week:
THE MAN WHO DROVE WITH MANDELA
Berlin, NewFest, Outfest, Frameline, London
The story of a long-overlooked figure in the struggle against apartheid.
I wrote about the doc for NewFest’s program in 1999, saying:
In 1962, Nelson Mandela traveled incognito across South Africa organizing rebellion against the apartheid regime. Driving an Austin Westminster, the man known as “The Black Pimpernel” posed as the chauffeur of a distinguished and well-dressed white man. The man who drove with Mandela was Cecil Williams – Johannesburg theatre director, committed freedom fighter, and gay man. In this engaging documentary, acclaimed filmmaker Greta Schiller recounts the life of Williams and his work in South Africa’s struggle for liberation. Williams, a gentleman and a communist, was a prominent member of Johannesburg society and known to entertain such dignitaries as Sir Lawrence Olivier. Interviews with friends and family, rare home movies of gay life in ’50s South Africa, and dramatic recreations of Williams’ own writings (performed eloquently by actor Corin Redgrave) are all used to construct a fascinating portrait of a man who shuttled between two subcultures – the hidden world of homosexuals and the secret world of anti-apartheid communists.