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Red Dust (2004)

2:23 | Trailer
Police officer Dirk Hendricks (Bartlett) files an amnesty application for Alex Mpondo (Ejiofor), a member of the South African Parliament who can't remember the torture he once endured as a captive political activist. South African-born attorney Sarah Barcant (Swank), meanwhile, returns to her homeland to represent Mpondo, as well as Steve Sizela, Mpondo's friend who was arrested along with him ... See full summary »


Tom Hooper


Troy Kennedy-Martin (screenplay), Gillian Slovo (novel)
4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jamie Bartlett ... Dirk Hendricks
Hilary Swank ... Sarah Barcant
Ian Roberts ... Piet Müller
Chiwetel Ejiofor ... Alex Mpondo
Hlomla Dandala Hlomla Dandala ... Oscar Dumasi
James Ngcobo James Ngcobo ... Ezekiel
Glen Gabela Glen Gabela ... Themba
Connie Mfuku Connie Mfuku ... Alex's Aunt
Sylvaine Strike ... Woman at House
Greg Latter Greg Latter ... Mannie Bester
Zaa Nkweta Zaa Nkweta ... Reporter
Marius Weyers ... Ben Hoffman
Sam Phillips Sam Phillips ... Elder (as Sam Philllips)
Elize Cawood Elize Cawood ... Anna Hoffman
Nomhle Nkonyeni ... Mrs. Sizela (as Nomhle Nkyonyeni)


The South African lawyer Sarah Barcant travels from New York back to her hometown to represent the member of the Parliament Alex Mpondo in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission since torturer police officer Dirk Hendricks has made an application for amnesty. The parents of Steve Sizela request Sarah to represent them also since their son that was arrested with Mpondo but has gone missing. Hendricks uses one break in the trial to threaten Mpondo, promising to destroy his political career telling that he was a traitor. But Mpondo, who is a man traumatized with the torture, anticipates and tells what has happened to Steve Sizela and him in the hands of Hendricks and his superior Piet Müller. Will the remains of Steve be found and the truth disclosed? Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent images and language | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film and Cats (2019) are, as of now, the only two films Tom Hooper has shot in the 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio. See more »


[last lines]
Alex Mpondo: We have the right to say that it hurt.
See more »


References The Graduate (1967) See more »

User Reviews

Truth and Reconciliation


No one is likely to pick up a DVD of Red Dust without knowing that it is about South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Hilary Swank stars as a South African exile who returns to her home town as a lawyer representing Alex Mpondo (Chiwetel Ejiofer), a member of the South African parliament who was tortured by a prison guard, Pete Muller (Ian Roberts), who is seeking to escape prison by testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They could certainly have found an actress who has or could imitate a South African accent; Ms. Swank makes no attempt whatsoever to cover her unmistakably American accent. Nevertheless she is the only well-known actor in the movie, and it would probably not have been made without her or someone equally well known. She does a passable job. However, Ejiofer and Muller (pronounced in the German way with an umlat over the "u") are outstanding as is Jamie Barlett as the chief of police, responsible for murdering Mpondo's comrade and fellow prisoner. The torture scenes are shown in brief flashes but they are vivid and believable. What is not believable is the Truth and Reconciliation process -- except that it actually happened. "Red Dust" should be seen for that reason alone because it was and is unbelievable that the ANC prisoners could actually forgive the torturers, and this is as close as we are likely to get to seeing the process in action.

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UK | South Africa


English | Xhosa | Afrikaans

Release Date:

6 May 2005 (South Africa) See more »

Also Known As:

Red Dust See more »

Filming Locations:

South Africa

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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