New film looks at SA’s turning point

2013-02-09 00:00

A NEW documentary film made by a largely South African crew reminds viewers about how close the country came to civil war in the four years before the first democratic elections.

It also reveals the crucial decisions, small conversations and audacious leaps of faith made by politicians, struggle leaders and ordinary men and women who steered the country away from the abyss.

Miracle Rising: South Africa features a host of well-known faces — including Roelf Meyer, Cyril Ramaphosa, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Charlize Theron, Professor Albie Sachs, Gillian Slovo, former United States president Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Robert De Niro and U2 frontman Bono.

Their anecdotes have been woven together with archival footage to create a tapestry of memory by director Brett Lotriet Best.

Accompanying the visuals is a striking soundtrack written by Craigie Dodds and Guy Farley and a theme song performed by Asanda Jezile, of The Africa Gospel Choir.

Other songs include Asimbonanga, written and performed by Johnny Clegg and Savuka; Biko, written and performed by Peter Gabriel, Weeping, written by Dan Heymann and performed by Bright Blue; and a new song, Breathe, composed by Bono for Mandela.

Producer Michelle Sparkes said: “We were interviewing Bono in a castle in Scotland when he suddenly said, ‘I’ve written this song for Mandela. Would you like to use it for the documentary?’ Of course, we said yes.”

The film premieres on History Channel (DStv channel 186) tomorrow at 8.30 pm and again at 10.20 pm. It will then be screened across the world on History’s networks to 350 million homes in over 150 countries, in more than 37 languages worldwide.

DStv and History have also agreed to let the SABC screen the documentary in March, giving every South African the chance to watch it.

At a special launch evening in Johannesburg on Thursday, Sparkes said they drew up a wish list of famous people and thought they’d be lucky to get six people on board. “Everyone we asked said yes; nobody turned us down,” she added.

Asked what they hoped to achieve through the documentary, Lotriet Best said: “I want people to realise the unbelievable power they hold in their hands at every moment of every day. History is not shaped by politicians; it is fundamentally created by the decisions of all of us, and choosing to forgive and let go — even the most unimaginable, intolerable situations — brings the kind of freedom that idealists dream of.”

Viewers can contribute their own stories of South Africa’s journey to democracy by tweeting #miraclerising or logging on to

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