Freedom Isn’t Free The Freedom Charter today

World Premiere Festival Guest African Feature

Freedom Isn’t Free challenges the ANC government with its failure to bring into being the words and resolutions of the Freedom Charter signed at Kliptown in 1955 when, from all over the country, Congress of the People delegates assembled to forge a new path for South Africa.  Using excellent archival footage, intercut from that past into the present and informative commentary by new and older generations, the film demonstrates that for the overwhelming majority of South Africans, housed in sprawling shanty-towns, there has been little advance since apartheid ended – neither economically or educationally.

With 34 interviewees, both young and seasoned, the film is ambitious, the material dense – occasionally it is hard to keep track of who’s who – but the narrative is clear and gives powerful insight into what is often lost from sight.  It shows that the historical pattern of life, rich and poor, has not changed. Expressing anger and disappointment some feel that ‘nothing short of a revolution is going to shift the trajectories’.

Though more weight is given to words illustrated by images than to the occasional power of silent images of moving events, aerial shots of the extent of the ‘new’ plethora of corrugated iron shacks country-wide are powerful and meaningful; actions and re-actions of the police under the ANC are more than reminiscent of the past.

Noteworthy, too, is the journey of Cyril Ramaphosa, from founder of the National Union of Mineworkers (“It must be remembered that it was the mining industry… which pioneered the most repressive features of apartheid South Africa”) to billionaire and President, now tasked with leading South Africa into a new, dynamic era of social and economic change.

From whatever persuasion or point of view they come, this is a film all South Africans should watch.  It will help them re-enter the debates of today’s South Africa and engage with its future.

Cape Town
V&A 6
Sat 2 June / 3.30pm + Q&A
V&A 6
Thu 7 June / 8.15pm + Q&A
Sun 10 June / 6pm
Sat 9 June / 5.45pm
Martin Jansen
South Africa
89 minutes


Martin Jansen Director

Socialist political activist Jansen is the director of Workers’ World Media Productions, a non-profit alternative media production house. This is his debut as producer and director. The film is intended as a tool for the organisation’s mass education programme to raise political awareness for action.