Cry Freedom (1987)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  6 November 1987 (USA)
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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 takes place from November 24, 1975 to January 2, 1979. 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 »


Wendy Woods: I know you. You're willing to tear our lives to see Donald Woods on a book cover. And you're using Steve's death as an excuse.
Donald Woods: Bloody hell!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening disclaimer: "With the exception of two characters whose identity has been concealed to ensure their safety, all the people depicted in this film are real and all the events true." See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Outlaw (1993) See more »


Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
See more »

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User Reviews

Possibly the best ever work for all involved
9 May 2005 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

As anyone old enough knows, South Africa long suffered under the vile, racist oppression of apartheid, which completely subjugated the black population. One of the most famous anti-apartheid activists was Steve Biko, who was murdered in jail. Following the murder, reporter Donald Woods sought to get Biko's message out to the world.

In "Cry Freedom", Woods (Kevin Kline) befriends Biko (Denzel Washington) before the latter is arrested on trumped up charges. When Woods attempts to spread Biko's word, he and his family begin living under threat of attack, and they are finally forced to flee the country. The last scene gut-wrenchingly shows police firing on protesters.

As one of two movies (along with "A World Apart") that helped galvanize the anti-apartheid movement, "Cry Freedom" stands out as possibly the best ever work for all involved.

15 of 18 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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