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A Dry White Season (1989)

Ben du Toit is a schoolteacher who always has considered himself a man of caring and justice, at least on the individual level. When his gardener's son is brutally beaten up by the police ... See full summary »



(novel) (as André Brink), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben du Toit
Susan du Toit
Stanley Makhaya
Captain Stolz (as Jurgen Prochnow)
Melanie Bruwer
Winston Ntshona ...
Gordon Ngubene
Thoko Ntshinga ...
Emily Ngubene
Leonard Maguire ...
Gerard Thoolen ...
Colonel Viljoen
Suzette du Toit
Andrew Whaley ...
Rowen Elmes ...
Johan du Toit
Stella Dickin ...
Susan's Mother
David de Keyser ...
Susan's Father (as David De Keyser)


Ben du Toit is a schoolteacher who always has considered himself a man of caring and justice, at least on the individual level. When his gardener's son is brutally beaten up by the police at a demonstration by black school children, he gradually begins to realize his own society is built on a pillar of injustice and exploitation. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 September 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Assassinato Sob Custódia  »

Box Office


$3,766,879 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Euzhan Palcy and producer Paula Weinstein battled to have South Africans cast for the film's black African characters. See more »


When the camera pulls away from the court house (Harare City Hall) a bus drives past displaying an advertisement for Balkan Bulgarian Airlines, which flew to Zimbabwe, but not to South Africa under apartheid during the 1970s. See more »


Melanie Bruwer: You'd better put your rage into perspective, Benjamin Du Toit. This is a long distance race, you'll need to pace yourself.
Ben du Toit: I suppose cynicism goes with the job!
Melanie Bruwer: It's not cynicism, it's realism.
Ben du Toit: It has nothing to do with *my* reality.
Melanie Bruwer: It has *everything* to do with your reality. Just because you haven't seen it before doesn't mean hasn't always existed!
See more »


Written by Joseph Shabalala
Performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
Produced by Danny Lawson for Night After Night Ltd.
Additional vocal performances by the cast of Sarafina
See more »

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User Reviews

Eventually, they'll need another site for all the bodies.
11 June 2007 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

For many years the government of South Africa carried on it's secret, grizzly business of imprisonment, torture and murder. Hundreds and then thousands of black South Africans were detained, arrested, beaten to death causing the numerous unofficial grave sites to overflow. Until then, many whites of South Africa either ignored their murderous brethren's brutalities or feigned ignorance of the atrocities. "A Dry White Season" rips deeply into the social fabric of both white myths, that proclaimed the enemy consisted of Black terrorists and anarchistic communists and the notion every white Africanier knew what was taking place and turned their heads. One family patriarch, Ben Du Toit (pronouched Toy) Donald Sutherland realizes he and his sanitized life style is to blame when a black Gardner and his son are both arrested and murdered without anyone caring. In order to get the government to change, he must challenge the Police Security Forces, or 'Special Branch' and it's formidable figurehead, Captain Stolz (Jürgen Prochnow, who is convincing as the menace behind the murderers). Marlon Brando is curiously interesting as Ian McKenzie as a sympathetic lawyer. Winston Ntshona is Gordon Ngubene a courageous national unafraid of anything except failure. All in all, a great film which needs to be seen by anyone who cares. ****

7 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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