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Announcement :: International
Amandla! A Revolution In Four Part Harmony
07 Jan 2006
Free Screening: Amandla! A Revolution In Four Part Harmony
7pm, Wednesday, January 11, 2006

at the Lucy Parsons Center
549 Columbus Ave (in the South End)

"Song is what keeps us alive."
-- Lindiwe Zulu (Freedom Fighter)

The power of song to communicate, motivate, console, unite and, ultimately, beget change: that ideal, gloriously realized, lies at the heart of director Lee Hirsch's inspiring feature film documentary Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony. Winner of the Audience Award and Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, Amandla! tells the story of black South African freedom music and reveals the central role it played in the long battle against apartheid. The first film to specifically consider the music that sustained and galvanized black South Africans for more than 40 years, Amandla!'s focus is on the struggle's spiritual dimension, as articulated and embodied in song. It is unlike any other film yet made on the subject of apartheid, and an electrically expressive portrait of South African life then and now.

In form as well as content, Amandla! breaks new ground. Beginning with its dynamic opening title sequence, Amandla! harnesses the visual and sonic power of cinema to create a powerfully emotional viewing experience. Vivid, color-drenched cinematography flows like song, complementing an innovative narrative that combines original footage, breathtaking musical numbers, archive and haunting reenactments to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit throughout the decades-long struggle for freedom in South Africa. Nine years in the making, Amandla! was shot in South Africa and features interviews with a diverse range of individuals, who candidly share their experiences of struggle and song. The film brings dozens of freedom songs to the screen, drawing upon original recordings and thrilling, sometimes impromptu live performances by celebrated South African musicians and nonprofessionals alike. Threaded throughout the film, these rich and beautiful anthems take viewers on an extraordinary journey through the spiritual and physical reality of life under apartheid.

Amandla! unearths the story of an extraordinary unsung hero, composer and activist Vuyisile Mini. A courageous political leader as well as a gifted songwriter and poet, Mini quickly realized the expressive potency of song after the apartheid government came to power in 1948, depriving black South Africans of their most basic rights as citizens. Mini gave voice and hope to a powerless people with anthems like 'Beware Verwoerd,' in which an infectious melody carries Xhosa lyrics that warn the architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd, that his day of reckoning will come.

To tell the story of this music, Amandla! turns to the people of South Africa itself. Among those featured in intimate interviews are the renowned musicians who helped expose the suffering of black South Africa to the world, including trumpeter Hugh Masekela, singer Miriam Makeba, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, singer/songwriter Vusi Mahlasela and singer Sibongile Khumalo. There are several generations of South Africans who experienced the struggle on the ground, a group that ranges from actress/singer Sophie Mgcina to freedom fighter (now Chief Director, West and Central Africa in the government's Department of Foreign Affairs) Lindiwe Zulu and activist/music producer Sifiso Ntuli. One of the film's most moving stories comes from current Parliament member Thandi Modise, who describes her ordeal as a political prisoner under apartheid. Tortured despite her advanced pregnancy, Modise was abandoned to her dank cell after her water broke during a brutal interrogation. On the verge of suicide, she mustered the will to live and fight on ­ she began to sing.

In addition to the songs themselves, Amandla! retrieves a stunning bounty of archive footage, some of it never before seen. Culled from a variety of sources, the footage describes the brutal arc of apartheid: the forced removals of black South Africans to wretched, government-built townships; the institution of onerous pass laws; and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. As the white government grew increasingly repressive and violent in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, freedom songs responded, urging the fight on. A new combination of dance and song, the toyi-toyi, became a potent weapon in taking on the police.

In 1994, the struggle reached its triumphant climax with the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa's first democratically chosen president. Amandla! concludes on a joyously harmonic note with the 'Siyanqoba (Victory)' rally, held in 1995 just prior to the government's first democratic local elections, the final step in the process of democratic transformation. Yet the story of freedom songs does not end there; as Amandla! makes clear, the music remains part of the fabric of the new South Africa. The freedom songs that were the strongest voice of an oppressed people now serve to express the very soul of their struggle to a post-apartheid generation. Named for the Xhosa word for 'power,' Amandla! lives up to its title, telling an uplifting story of human courage, resolve and triumph.

Upcoming Films:

Jan 18 – Hope For Tomorrow: Fighting HIV/ AIDs Together in Togo, West Africa

This short film documents the collaboration of Togo-based Association Espoir Pour Demain (AED) with United States and Togo-based Hope Through Health (HTH). AED is a self-organized association of people living with HIV/ AED based in Kara, Togo in West Africa. With their partner, HTH, they are pioneering a new approach for the region: a comprehensive program addressing both prevention and treatment developed by and under control of those most affected by the disease. As a result, programs include not only medical but psychological, social, nutritional and educational dimensions based on the premise that health is a human right and a social justice issue. This short film will be followed by an opportunity to talk with a board member from Hope Through Health, and find out how you can get involved, collaborate with and support this international solidarity project.

Radical Film Night at the Lucy Parsons Center
Every Wednesday night at 7pm
Always Free

Questions-Comments about the film series, contact films(-at-)


+++ Where are we?

Lucy Parsons Center
549 Columbus Avenue
Boston's South End
Telephone: 617.267.6272
Email: lucyparsons (at)

+++ Directions

By train/public transportation: Take the Orange Line to the Mass Ave. stop, or the Green "E" line to the Symphony stop. Walk south on Mass Ave for a minute or two. Go left onto Columbus Avenue for 1-1/2 blocks. Lucy Parsons Center will be on the left.

By bus:Take the #1 Dudley/Mass Ave bus to the corner of Columbus Avenue and Mass Ave. Walk east on Columbus Avenue 1-1/2 blocks. Lucy Parsons Center will be on the left.

By car, from Storrow Drive:Exit at Copley. Go left at the light, onto Arlington Street. Continue approximatley five blocks until Columbus Avenue. Go right onto Columbus Avenue for approximately eight blocks. Lucy Parsons Center will be on your right. If you reach Mass Ave, you've gone one block too far.

From I-93 N or S:Take the Storrow Drive exit. Continue 1-2 minutes on Storrow and exit at Copley. Go left at the light, onto Arlington Street. Continue approximatley five blocks until Columbus Avenue. Go right onto Columbus Avenue for approximately eight blocks. Lucy Parsons Center will be on your right. If you reach Mass Ave, you've gone one block too far.

+++ What are we?

The Lucy Parsons Center, Boston's collectively run radical bookstore features an extensive selection of radical books and magazines, internet access, space for talks and meetings, and free movies Wednesday nights. Located at 549 Columbus Avenue in the South End the store is just down from Mass Ave and easily reached from the Mass Ave and Symphony T stations and the #1 bus. Regular store hours Mon-Fri 12-9pm Weekends 12-6.

+++ Volunteer

Volunteering at LPC isn't just about donating your labor. All of the Lucy Parsons Center volunteers contribute to all aspects of running the store and can take part in all decisions in how it's run. If you know anything about grant writing, web design, or any other skills you think would be useful, or if you just want to be part of this great radical project, please email Pete at petestid (at)

+++ Use our space for radical stuff

One of the most important aspects of the Lucy Parsons Center is providing a community meeting place for radical activities. If you want to host an event, please send an email to Rebecca at rebeccabatchelder (at) Make sure to give enough notice so that we can approve the event at our bimonthly meetings.

If you have a group that needs a space to have regular meetings, just come to the bookstore and fill out a space request form. Again, make sure to allow time for approval by the collective.

+++ Donate MONEY!

We need support to help ensure the Lucy Parsons Center continues to grow and be an important resource for the community. Donations can be made in the form of cash, check or credit cards. Please call the store for more info. If you don't have a lot, don't worry, even donating the change of your purchase can make a difference.

Subscribe to the LPC announcement only-list:
lucy_parsons_center-subscribe (at)
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Re: Amandla! A Revolution In Four Part Harmony
08 Jan 2006
this is one of the best movies i've ever seen.