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The Story

Wrapped up in a crime story, Mapantsula examines racial discrimination and day-to-day acts of resistance to the apartheid regime.

During demonstrations in apartheid-era South Africa, police arrest not only activists but also Panic, a “mapantsula” or petty gangster. While a cop tries to get him to make incriminating statements, we learn in flashbacks how Panic got caught up in the township riots. Panic is only interested in partying, alcohol, and his girlfriend Pat, and stays away from the protests against exorbitant rents. But then Pat, who loses her job as a house maid because of him, cuts Panic loose, and his landlady’s son is taken away by the police

During the state of emergency imposed in South Africa in 1985, Mapantsula could only be made after a “bowdlerised” screenplay was submitted to the authorities. Grassroots opposition had reached a climax when the film was released and then promptly banned.

This classic of South African cinema has been restored in 4K and makes a triumphant return to the big screen in celebration of 30 years of democracy in South Africa.

Rating

U

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