Mapantsula Returns Home

Iconic Anti-Apartheid Film Screening Nationwide for First Time in SA in Restored Version

The 44th  Durban International Film Festival, taking place from 20-30 July 2023, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, will host the nationwide premiere of the restored 4K version of Mapantsula on Sunday, 23 July, at 2.30 pm at Suncoast CineCentre and selected Ster-Kinekor cinemas in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Mapantsula is widely considered the first true anti-Apartheid film, and upon its premiere at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, it opened to massive critical acclaim and praise for its artistic value and its efforts in raising awareness of the South African struggle. Mapantsula had a massive impact on political cinema, pop culture, bringing African cinema to the forefront of industry conversations. However, in its original form, it was banned from release in South Africa, and as a result, the main audience the film was made for, the majority, were never able to watch it.

Andrea Voges, Durban Film Festival manager, said, “Mapantsula is not just a movie; it is a cultural touchstone that tells the story of a nation’s struggle against Apartheid. We are proud to be part of this radical distribution partnership that celebrates and honours this pivotal film and brings the festival experience country-wide, making it more accessible to all. We hope it inspires filmmakers to keep telling stories that matter.”

Director Oliver Schmitz says, “I am delighted that Mapantsula is finally being seen in South Africa the way it should have been 35 years ago. Mapantsula was made against all odds by brave actors and a team. We celebrate and honour those who are no longer here but who will never be forgotten. First and foremost, we honour Thomas Matsobane Mogotlane, Dolly Rathebe, Lloyd Lelosa, Nana Coyote Motijoane, and Mesh Mapetla. We are proud to have worked together, and we are proud of our achievement.”

The film follows the story of Panic, a gangster who only looks out for himself until he is confronted with systematic abuse and has to decide whether or not to stand up against it and fight the system. 

The screenings have been made possible through an innovative and radical distribution partnership between the London-based distributor/production company, WHAT THE HERO WANTS (WTHW), and the Durban International Film Festival, in addition to the participating theatre chains Ster Kinekor and CineCentre. The deal was brokered by the Festival Manager, Andrea Voges, and What The Hero Wants’ Co-CEO, Aaryan K. Trivedi.

About DIFF

The 44th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) will take place from 20 July to 30 July 2023. Widely regarded as one of the leading film festivals on the African continent, DIFF will showcase an impressive variety of shorts, features, documentaries and student films. The programme is available on To stay up to date, follow #DIFF2023 and #DIFFwithus on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The 44th Durban International Film Festival, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu- Natal, is supported by the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa,  the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, the Durban Film Office, the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Avalon Group.

Note for the editor

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The film will have a premier event on the 10th of August at CineCenter’s Killarney location in Johannesburg. The press is invited to cover the historic occasion, which will host the cast and crew of the film amongst other prominent voices in the arts and culture space.

The nationwide screenings of Mapantsula, will start on 18th August and will be co-distributed by AB Moosa’s Nolava International Film Distribution.

Additional Quotes:

Dr. Thembi Mtshali-Jones, the lead actress in Mapantsula shares, “This moment is full circle and emotional. I threw myself into the role of Pat on Mapantsula as a young actress in my 1st feature film. I told a story and set it out into the universe, it was for a time such as this that this movie comes back home. We shot Mapantsula at great risk, as artists, and as a result of the then apartheid laws and government, the movie was never shown in South Africa. For it to be shown on home soil is not only a dream come true for me, it’s also a movie that holds up the baton of victory for a freedom we fought for, and our heroes such as Nelson Mandela were willing to die for. Welcome home Mapantsula.”

WTHW CO-CEO, Aaryan K. Trivedi adds, “When considering how the film should be released – we strongly felt that it should be a celebration and event. We want to find ways to innovate the distribution process and movie-going experience – So when discussing the potential of bringing the festival to every province with this film – we decided with the rebellious nature of the making of the film – it feels appropriate that its release should be radical and special too.“

AB Moosa, CEO of Nolava International Film Distribution said, “We are excited to bring Mapantsula back to its country of origin in its uncensored form. This film holds immense historical and cultural significance for South Africa, and it is a privilege to be part of the distribution and exhibition process, with one of its first screenings at our cinemas, Suncoast CineCentre under the auspices of the Durban International Film Festival. We hope that audiences across the nation will embrace this opportunity to experience this iconic film that sheds light on the struggles of our past.”

AB added, “As Mapantsula returns home in its uncensored form, it represents a triumphant moment for South African cinema and an opportunity for audiences to engage with their own history.”


DIFF 2023


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