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 ...
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?


Lew Wasserman, the head of MCA/Universal told Richard Attenborough to 'clear his shelves of his Oscars for Ghandi , as Cry Freedom was going sweep the board at the Academy awards' and indeed, early, pre-release test screenings resulted in many positive audience reactions. However the film proved a disaster at the US box-office and failed to be even nominated in any of the major Oscar categories except Best Supporting Actor for Denzel Washington. See more »


Tires screeching on dusty dirt road. See more »


Steve Biko: ...but you a black child, smart or dumb, you're born into this and smart or dumb, you'll die in it
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 Siskel & Ebert: Breakthrough Stars of 1990 (1990) See more »


Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
See more »

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User Reviews

Thought provoking, gut wrenching and a humbling experience at 14 years of age
15 February 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I think the context of the story has been covered by other posters so I would just like to write about the impact this film had on me.

I first saw this film the year of it's release around 1987. My school organised a trip to the cinema to see it, for an RE project I think. We all went along of course excited because we were on a school trip to the cinema! Little did we know what we were about to experience. To this day I still remember the feelings it invoked in me and i remembered crying a lot as were most of my friends. I think at the age we were we found it shocking and quiet rightly outraged in our own youthful way .It had such an impact on me that I joined the Anti Apartheid Movement the same year.

I think it served it's purpose in my case.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Too much Donald Woods not enough Steve Biko D8Player
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great movie onlyastateofmind
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