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Cry Freedom (1987) Poster

(1987)

Trivia

According to director Richard Attenborough, a number of cast members were South African exiles.
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The filmmakers intended to shoot in South Africa as early as October 1986 with permission from select prominent figures including Oliver Tambo and Winnie Mandela. After interviewing Mandela, the chief production crew was tailed around by the S.A gestapo all the time and was forced to leave South Africa. Also, the SABC at that time deliberately misinterpreted Richard Attenborough's decision of shooting the film in October and instead broadcast the news of him starting a revolution sponsored by Russia.
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The film was shot in Zimbabwe rather than South Africa due to the political unrest and sensitivities that were present there at the time.
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The movie's closing credits declare that the picture was "filmed principally in the Republic of Zimbabwe and completed in Kenya, the United Kingdom and at Lee International Film Studios Ltd., Shepparton, England, with post production at Twickenham Studios, Middlesex, England".
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Denzel Washington was cast as Steve Biko after Richard Attenborough saw him in an episode of St. Elsewhere (1982).
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Gerald Sim (Police doctor) was the brother-in-law of the director Richard Attenborough.
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The film takes place from November 24, 1975 to January 2, 1979.
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The film's opening prologue states: "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".
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This film was part of a cycle of pictures made during the 1980s that featured journalists covering war. The movies include Salvador (1986), Under Fire (1983), Circle of Deceit [Circle of Deceit (1981)], Witness in the War Zone (1987), Cry Freedom (1987), The Killing Fields (1984) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).
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One of a mini-cycle of late 1980s anti-apartheid themed movies. The films are Cry Freedom (1987), A World Apart (1988) and A Dry White Season (1989), each released in subsequent years. The Power of One (1992) would follow early in the next decade of the 1990s.
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The picture's opening title card reads: "24th November 1975: Crossroads Settlement, Cape Province, Republic of South Africa:".
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The film was based on two books by Donald Woods who is played in the film by Kevin Kline. These are "Biko" (1978) and "Asking for Trouble: The Autobiography of a Banned Journalist" (1981). The film was made and released about nine and six years after each book respectively.
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The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, two of them for Best Music, Best Music Score and Best Original Song ("Cry Freedom"), and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Denzel Washington, but the film failed to win an Oscar in any of this trio of categories.
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The movie stars two actors who both won Best Supporting Actor Academy Awards during the 1980s. Denzel Washington won for Glory (1989) whilst Kevin Kline won for A Fish Called Wanda (1988). Washington later won a Best Actor Oscar for Training Day (2001) whilst Cry Freedom (1987) garnered Washington his first ever Academy Award nomination which was in the Best Supporting Actor category.
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The acronym "BPC" stood for "Black People Convention".
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Stephen Biko, who is portrayed in this film by Denzel Washington, had been the subject of a television documentary around a decade earlier. This was in an episode of World in Action (1963) entitled "The Life and Death of Steve Biko" which was first broadcast on 3rd October 1977 [See: World in Action: The Life and Death of Steve Biko (1977)].
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English actor John Thaw's previous cinema movie that he had appeared in had been another Africa set movie that being a filmed version of a Doris Lessing novel, Killing Heat (1981).
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First theatrical feature film produced by a major Hollywood studio of renowned Australian actor John Hargreaves.
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The seventh of only twelve theatrical feature films directed by Richard Attenborough.
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The make and model of the car seen when Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) is making his way to the Lesotho border was a white beat-up 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne custom-made convertible.
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The movie is often shown in two eighty minute parts, allowing for a convenient intermission in cinemas, and for the two parts to be shown, for example, a week apart on television.
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The director Richard Attenborough, Denzel Washington (Stephen Biko), Kevin Kline (Donald Woods) and Alec McCowen (Acting High Commissioner) all later appeared in Shakespearean films directed by Kenneth Branagh: McCowen played the Bishop of Ely in Henry V (1989), Washington played Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Attenborough played the English Ambassador in Hamlet (1996) and Kline played Jacques in As You Like It (2006).
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The film's epilogue during the closing credits states: "'Biko' was published in 1978. Its author, Donald Woods, and his wife, Wendy Woods, served as principal consultants to this film".
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According to the Turner Classic Movies website, "the film was released in South Africa, to a selected audience".
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The film was selected as one of the Top Ten Films of the year in 1987 by the USA's National Board of Review.
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