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// Films // Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony

Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony

Lee Hirsch / United States / 2002 / 103 ' / English - Zulu


Johanna Demetrakas
Brand Jordaan, Ivan Leathers & Clive Sacke
Lee Hirsch & Sherry Simpson

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Awards & Festivals

2002, Nominated, Sundance Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize
2002, Winner, Sundance Film Festival, Audience Award
2002, Winner, Sundance Film Festival, Freedom of Expression Award

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A doc depicting the struggles of black South Africans against the injustices of Apartheid through the use of music


In the film, South African musicians, playwrights, poets and activists recall the struggle against Apartheid from the 1940s to the 1990s that stripped black citizens of South Africa of basic human rights, and the important role that music played in that struggle. The documentary uses a mixture of interviews, musical performances and historical film footage. Among the South Africans who take part are Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela and others.

The freedom songs heard in the film have an important historical context. Particularly in the United States, freedom songs have referred to protest songs of the abolitionist, civil rights, and labor movements. Yet, in South Africa, the songs take on a different meaning, referring to a unique collection of songs tied to the struggle for racial equality during the twentieth century. Stylistically, freedom songs originated in choir as a unifying and prevalent genre that combined southern African signing traditions with Christian hymns. Most of the songs have simple melodies and are sung a cappella. More importantly, they are composed and sung in groups, and often reflect changing political circumstances and attitudes.


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