In Darkest Hollywood: Cinema and Apartheid

Director: Peter Davis and Daniel Riesenfeld
Country: USA, Canada, and South Africa
Year: 1994
Running Time: 112 min.
Language: English


Using a wealth of archival footage and commentary by filmmakers and actors, including a young John Kani and Miriam Makeba, this two-part film examines the role of cinema in both supporting and attacking Apartheid, focusing on the impact of Hollywood films in South Africa, the depiction of South Africa in Hollywood films, and finally, the emergence of an indigenous film industry in South Africa. It also questions Hollywood’s commitment to racial stereotypes and reluctance to depict black heroes.

About the Director

Peter Davis and Daniel Riesenfeld

Biography: Peter Davis founded Villon Films, which has been independently producing and distributing award-winning films since 1970. With a strong focus on socio-political documentary, the collection spans such issues as government, history, ecology, culture, health and science, women’s issues, biography, and the apartheid period of South African history. Peter Davis has written, produced, and directed more than thirty documentaries to wide acclaim. His work has been shown on every major television network on the globe including CVC, CTV, BBC, CBS, NBC, German Television, and NHK Japan.

Davis was born and raised in England. He completed his master’s studies at Oxford University before emigrating to North America. His early career included positions as scriptwriter for the National Film Board of Canada; director-cameraman for BBC, CBC, Swedish TV, Danish TV, Australian Broadcasting, and WNET; as well as producer for Swedish TV, London’s Rediffusion Television, BBC, CBS, CBC, CTV, Polytel (West Germany), WNET, the United Nations, UNICEF, and C.A.R.E.

The Peter Davis Collection at Indiana University represents thirty years of work. It includes not only films, but also corresponding outtakes, photographs, stills, audio-cassettes, and manuscripts, all available for research and study. The South African material spans the period of the most intensive struggle for human rights in that country, and also includes historical work dating from the beginning of the century. Both Peter Davis and Villon Films have won numerous awards.

Biography: Daniel Riesenfeld was born in California and is a graduate of UCLA film school. For several years he worked as a CBS photojournalist. Riesenfeld is known for his sensitive treatment of Third World themes.

– AFF, Inc.

Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
In Darkest Hollywood: Cinema and Apartheid (1994; 2004; 2012);
Journey to Nyae Nyae (2004 – Daniel Riesenfeld).

Pub (1966 – Peter Davis);
Strip (1966 – Peter Davis);
Anatomy of Violence (1967 – Peter Davis);
D.H. Lawrence in Taos (1970 – Peter Davis);
The Selling of the Pentagon (1971 – Peter Davis);
Hearts and Minds (1974 – Peter Davis);
This Bloody, Blundering Business (1975 – Peter Davis);
South Africa: The White Laager (1977 – Peter Davis);
Generations of Resistance (1980 – Peter Davis);
Getting the Most from Your Garden (1981 – Peter Davis);
Middletown: Second Time Around (1982 – Peter Davis);
Stocking Up (1982 – Peter Davis);
Bopha! (1986 – Daniel Riesenfeld);
Winnie and Nelson Mandela (1986 – Peter Davis);
Rise and Fall of the Borscht Belt (1986 – Peter Davis);
In Darkest Hollywood: Cinema and Apartheid (1993);
Nelson Mandela: Prisoner to President (1994 – Peter Davis);
Journey to Nyae Nyae (2004 – Daniel Riesenfeld);
Side by Side, Women against AIDS in Zimbabwe (1995 – Peter Davis).