Come Back, Africa | Chicago Reader

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83 minutes

Shot clandestinely in Johannesburg with a nonprofessional cast, this 1959 feature by director Lionel Rogosin (On the Bowery) is an extraordinary document of black life under apartheid. Even the scripted dialogue scenes have the immediacy of a newsreel; it’s the rare movie where the lapses in technical sophistication actually add to the feeling of authenticity. The main character is a poor miner who goes to Johannesburg in search of a better job, only to be tossed out by one callous employer after another. Rogosin notes the specifics of his daily struggle—such as the process of securing permits both to live and work in the city—and he’s no less observant of the vibrant social life of the shantytown where he ends up living. The movie contains several joyous musical performances that are as revealing as the overtly political sequences. In English and subtitled Afrikaans.

See our full review: The not-so-dark continent

The not-so-dark continent

The African Diaspora International Film Festival screens 6/15-6/21 at Facets »

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