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France, 2018

Original music : Aurélien Chouzenoux Production : UFO Production, Rouge International

Programmed by Pascale Ferland


French, English



2018 marks the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. He seized centre stage during a historic trial in 1963 and 1964. But there were eight others who, like him, faced the death sentence. They too were subjected to pitiless cross-examinations. To a man they stood firm and turned the tables on the state : South Africa’s Apartheid regime was in the dock. Recently recovered sound archives of those hearings transport us back into the thick of the courtroom battles.

A word from Tënk

The State Against Nelson Mandela and the Others is a work from Nicolas Champeaux and Gilles Porte, straddling memoir and history, that focuses on a key moment of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa: the trial of Rivonia from 1963-1964. A total of 256 hours of the proceedings were recorded on tape. More than 50 years later, these tapes, unedited and deteriorated to the point of inaudibility, were miraculously restored by the INA (the French National Audiovisual Institute). This audio is accompanied by animated sequences deftly synchronized with the speakers’ voices. The grainy sound quality inherent to recordings from this era serves to immerse us in the atmosphere of that bygone courtroom.


Another directorial device, as simple as it is powerful, involves calling back memories for those defendants who are still among us by having them listen to recordings from the trial through headphones. Comrades from this historic movement against apartheid share their stories from an insider’s perspective, leading up to Nelson Mandela’s famous statement, which, contextualized within the heart of the trial, leaves us with goosebumps. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony […] It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” A statement that to this day recalls a painful history that cannot be erased, but which still leaves us with hope for healing.




Pascale Ferland
Filmmaker, teacher and programmer



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Item 1 of 4