“An Act of Defiance” begins in 1963. The government of South Africa is facing increased resistance to its policy of segregation and apartheid. Attacks on the electrical system and government buildings seem to be a prelude to civil war.
This story, based on real events, begins at 5:30 a.m. July 11, 1963.
When some of the people in the resistance are caught, they are white and Jewish, and it leads to a trial in which the defense attorney is Jewish, defending Jews and blacks in a segregated country.
The argument for the defense, which includes Nelson Mandela, is not that the men are not part of the rebellion, but that they are fighting a corrupt and unethical government.
For the lawyer, it is a high-risk situation. It is not only a legal matter, but also a political one, especially because the defense counsel is also white and Jewish.
The movie itself is not just a legal story, but also a film that deals with the defense lawyer’s family. They live in a white environment defending blacks rebelling against a white-dominated society. And they know that their house is bugged, so they must be careful about their conversations.
The essence of the movie is whether apartheid can be conquered with the force of words and nonviolence and what the penalty is for fighting the system.
The movie is clearly organized, spoken in English and Afrikaans with subtitles, and is worth your time, for it is part of the history of South Africa, and it has implications for the United States in how we deal with segregation, subtle as it may be.
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 26, 11:40 a.m., Atlantic Station; Jan. 27, 7:50 p.m., Perimeter Pointe; Jan. 28, 1:25 p.m., Hollywood, and 7:15 p.m., Atlantic Station; Jan. 30, 7 p.m., Perimeter Pointe