As the name implies, a catchall page for stuff that doesn't fit other categories

South Africa films      Songwriting films


South Africa films

Here's a list of films with connections to South Africa.


Invictus (2009)
The South African rugby team, the Springboks, find Nelson Mandela as one of their most ardent supporters, not only as a sports fan but because of their potential to bring a new level of unity a post-apartheid nation.

The Color of Freedom (Goodbye Bafana)
Based on the memoirs of James Gregory, the white South African who guarded Nelson Mandela during more than 20 years as a political prisoner under apartheid.  The factual accuracy of the book and film have been questioned, but the redemptive story of a change of heart from racism to acceptance that Gregory experiences in this tale reflects a reality for many  South Africans, and an ideal for all people.

Tells the story of a rural young mother, called Yesterday (played by Leleti Khumalo), who discovers she has AIDS. Her husband, a migrant mine laborer, who originally gave her the disease, rejects her. Her ambition becomes to live long enough to see her daughter, Beauty, go to school.
This film is the first commercial feature-length production in Zulu.

The Age of AIDS (2006)
A 4-hr PBS Frontline documentary about the scientific and political history of the AIDS pandemic.  Some very interesting coverage of the church's response, including Bono and Franklin Graham, and the impact on South Africa.

Cry Freedom (1987)
True story. South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, black activist Steve Biko.

Master Harold & the Boys (1985) (TV)
A gripping play-for-TV with Matthew Broderick (post-Bueller?).  The tensions in the love-hate relationship between a tea shop owner's son and the two black hired men who've helped raise him come to a head.

Long Night's Journey Into Day (2000)
A documentary about apartheid in South Africa, focusing on four stories that were examined in the post-apartheid reconciliation hearings.

In My Country (2004)  [S. African title: Country of My Skull]
Samuel L. Jackson plays an American reporter covering the post-apartheid reconciliation hearings.

Cry, the Beloved Country (1951)
A South African preacher goes to search for his wayward son who has committed a crime in the big city. An early film about the struggle under apartheid, based on the well-known book.

Cry, the Beloved Country (1995)
A recent remake of the above title.

Bopha! (1993)
Danny Glover plays a South African cop, dealing with the inevitable conflicts of a black man defending the law under apartheid.

Red Dust (2004)
About a particular case during the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings.  Police officer Dirk Hendricks, to avoid punishment for his treatment of then-political activist Alex Mpondo, has agreed to confess his crimes publicly before the committee to obtain amnesty.  Mpondo, now a member of the South African Parliament, attends the trial to oppose the police officer's amnesty and to use the hearing to discover what happened to Steve Sizela, Mpondo's friend who was arrested along with him and never heard from again. South African-born attorney Sarah Barcant (Swank) has returned to the homeland she hated to represent Mpondo.   Rated R for violent images/language

Tsotsi (2005)
A young hood in a Johannesburg township finds a baby in a car he has stolen from a rich family, and decides to try to keep the baby and raise it as his own.

Catch a Fire (2006)
An apartheid-era tale, based on the life of ANC activist Patrick Chamusso. A black man, despite his efforts to avoid the politics & violence threatening his family and livelihood, is galvanized into action by a false accusation and subsequent abuse by the overzealous security police.

Cape of Good Hope
A symphony of sketches...part romantic comedy, part social commentary, this film follows several characters whose stories are intertwined, all revolving around a Cape Town animal shelter.   As a whole, it turns out to be a delightful panorama of various walks of life in South Africa.

Stander (2003)  [not a family film]
Based on a true story about a police captain in J'burg who, fed up with the immorality of the work he has to do in defending the apartheid line, turns bank robber.

The Quarry (1998) [not a family film]
A story of a fugitive who poses as a priest.

Beat the Drum (2003)
Young Musa is orphaned after a mysterious illness strikes his village in KwaZulu Natal. To help his grandmother, Musa sets out for Johannesburg with his father's last gift, a tribal drum, in search of work and his uncle. The journey confronts him with the stark realities of urban life, but his indomitable spirit never wavers; he returns with a truth and understanding his elders have failed to grasp.

Songwriting films

Crazy Heart (2009)
A faded country star whose career is on the decline is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life in the light of a new love.  Not pretty to watch, for the most part, but redemptive as all get-out.

Music & Lyrics (2007)
Hugh Grant plays a one-hit-wonder past his prime looking to revive his career with a song, and Drew Barrymore plays a plant-waterer who becomes his best hope for success...and true love.  Really, it's better than it sounds. See my review here.

The Thing Called Love (1993)
Sandra Bullock is in this.  That's enough for some of us, but the story of several songwriters hoping to make it in Nashville with a little help from the Bluebird Cafe makes this film even more a required viewing.  Points off for the feminist message, but otherwise great.

Ishtar (1987)
I don't care what you've heard, this movie is funny.  Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty are a team of songwriters (the worst you've ever loved) who get caught up in a Middle East plot.  Paul Williams ("We've Only Just Begun," "Being Green") contributed to the film's hilarously bad songs.

Songcatcher (2000)
For Dr. Lily Penleric (Janet McTeer), a visit to her sister in Appalachia turns into an exploration of a culture and an effort to preserve its songs.  In the process she discovers love and a challenge to her view of the world and her place in it.

The Tune (1992) (animated)
Quirky story, imaginative animation, fun songs.  For grownups.

Dixie (1943) (Bing Crosby)
based on the life of Daniel Decatur Emmett, who wrote the classic song "Dixie."

Rhythm on the River (1940) (Bing Crosby)
From IMDB: Popular songwriter Oliver Courtney has been getting by for years using one ghost writer for his music and another for his lyrics. When both writers meet at an inn, they fall in love and then try to sell their songs under their own name. The problem is every song publisher thinks they're copying Courtney's style.

The Star Maker (1939) (Bing Crosby)
From IMDB: A film about the life of Gus Edwards, a well known vaudeville composer, entertainer, and producer.

Mr. Music (1950) (Bing Crosby)
From IMDB: A golf-crazy songwriter tries to avoid the long, solitary hours of concentration needed to produce a hit musical. His producer and his secretary conspire to get him back on track.