Cry Freedom (1987)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  6 November 1987 (USA)
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Reviews: 50 user | 20 critic

South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend the black activist Steve Biko.


(screenplay), (books)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Josette Simon ...
Dr. Ramphele
Wabei Siyolwe ...
John Matshikiza ...
Juanita Waterman ...
Ntsiki Biko
Evelyn Sithole ...
Nurse at clinic
Xoliswa Sithole ...
Nurse at clinic
James Coine ...
Young boy
Albert Ndinda ...
Andrew Whaley ...
Shelley Borkum ...
Woods' receptionist
Wendy Woods
Jane Woods


Donald Woods is chief editor of the liberal newspaper Daily Dispatch in South Africa. He has written several editorials critical of the views of Steve Biko. But after having met him for the first time, he changes his opinion. They meet several times, and this means that Woods and his family get attention from the security police. When Steve Biko dies in police custody, he writes a book about Biko. The only way to get it published is for Woods himself to illegally escape the country. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The true story of the friendship that shook South Africa and awakened the world


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 November 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Grito de libertad  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$29,000,000 (estimated)


$5,899,797 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was shot in Zimbabwe rather than South Africa due to the political unrest and sensitivities that were present there at the time. See more »


Although the film is set in South Africa, circa 1977, one of the buses arriving at Steve Biko's funeral plainly bears advertising for Charon's - a Zimbabwean brand of sweets not known in South Africa. See more »


Steve Biko: When I was a student, trying to qualify for the jobs you people will let us have, I suddenly realized that i wasn't just good jobs that were white. The only history we read was made by the white man, written by the white man. Television, cars, medicines - all invented by the white man, even football. Now the way like that, it's not hard to believe there's something inferior about being born black. I began to think this idea of inferiority was an even bigger problem for us than what the ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Preceding the final credits is a list of other detainees who died in the custody of the South African police. Steven Biko's name appears on the list. See more »


Featured in Richard Attenborough: A Life (2014) See more »


Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
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User Reviews

An exceptional film
2 April 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This film is, quite simply, brilliant. The cinematography is good, the acting superb and the story absolutely breathtaking. This is the story of Donald Woods, a white South African who thought himself a liberal until he found out the reality of apartheid. Kevin Kline is completely convincing - so much so that when Donald Woods himself appeared on TV some years later, I recognised him from Kline's portrayal. Denzel Washington also turns in a masterful performance, as ever.

I urge you to watch this. It is long, but it is worth your patience because it tells such an incredible story. Remember, folks, this really happened.

29 of 37 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

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Too much Donald Woods not enough Steve Biko D8Player
A truly great film pearl_paid_peanuts
Poisoned Tee-Shirts mikepth
great movie onlyastateofmind
Version of Nkosi Sikeleli Africa in this movie luccastrel
The countryside mikepth
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