Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Born in 1915 into relative privilege in a white-supremacist South Africa, Beyers Naudé was the son of an Afrikaner cleric who went on to become a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. He was also a member of the Broederbund, the male secret society that was a key force behind the maintenance of apartheid in the nation. Fast forward to the sixties, and Naudé experienced a change of heart and mind: he could no longer serve a church that supported atrocities like the Sharpeville massacre (69 protesting black citizens were killed by police), nor could he agree with the policy of segregation that ruled his country. From there began an inspired and inspiring journey that was never without risk for the rest of life: Naudé followed his convictions, but had no idea where they would lead him. Would he able to survive without the church that he loved so dearly? Would the black community of South Africa accept his dedication to their cause, or would he be seen as another well-meaning white person who was ultimately futile? This probing documentary was made in 1987, before the end of Apartheid, and retains a powerful glimpse into the systematized evil of South Africa’s last century. Naudé himself provides plenty of information as an interview subject, describing his life since he decided to fight for the noble cause, and the satisfaction it has given him despite all the hardships. It is thought-provoking and informative, never sentimental but often very moving.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Documentary Feature