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South Africa Won't Censor 'Cry Freedom'

November 27, 1987|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Government censors today approved uncut showings in South Africa of "Cry Freedom," the new film about black activist Steve Biko.

The film, which opened this month in the United States and Britain, has been described by critics as a powerful indictment of apartheid and a likely contender for the Academy Awards.

South African journalists who saw the film overseas had predicted that it would not be allowed into South Africa.

Biko's death in detention 10 years ago made him a martyr for government opponents. The film's other central character, exiled journalist Donald Woods, is a "banned" person who cannot be quoted in South Africa.

Committee Viewed Film

Prof. Braam Coetzee, who as director of publications control oversees the censorship process, said a committee of censors viewed "Cry Freedom" on Thursday and approved the film without cuts or age restrictions.

"Everyone tried to rid themselves of any preconceived idea or attitude when they viewed the film," he said. "The decision arrived at is an indication of the committee's objectivity."

The film, directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, was submitted to the censorship board by its distributors. It is not yet known when it might open in South Africa.

Last week, the censorship board banned "No Fears Expressed," a book consisting of quotations from Biko before his death at age 30.

Advocated Self-Reliance

Biko was the founder of the black consciousness movement, which advocated black self-reliance in the struggle for political rights.

Woods was a white newspaper editor who at first interpreted Biko's stance as black racism but later befriended him. The film is based largely on two books written by Woods.

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