Paris Screenings of Miners Shot Down

March 20 2014

I arrived in Paris after a red eye flight from London on the 16th of March. Pollution levels were so high that public transport had been declared free and the Parisians were out on the streets in numbers. The sun was out making it feel like a summers days and the location of my hotel, next to the wonderfully grand Hotel de Ville municipal building, made the three-day stop that extra special. My mood was enhanced by the news of the release of Makhanya one of the two strike leaders who had helped me make the film.

 HotelVilleParis

The two Miners Shot Down screenings were well attended but the discussions in the cinema were very different. The first was full of questions and comments that asked the hard questions about how and why this could happen under a government controlled by the ANC and what had happened to the NUM. It was clear that a number of people in the cinema had been lifelong supporters of both and were visibly shocked.

Paris Human Rights International Film Festival

Paris Human Rights International Film Festival

My response tried to take into account the great sorrow that was palpably present. I too felt the same way following the massacre and the subsequent revelations that began to paint a clear picture of collusion. A picture of a backroom conspiracy to break the strike and to meet Lonmin’s economic needs, needs that were in line with governmental and political requirements, who saw the strike as being a threat to the ANC, NUM and to Cyril Ramaphosa himself. The second screening had a much younger audience and the questions were more focused on what actually happened, looking at the police shooting in particular, and what the consequences of the shooting had been. In relation to the latter I focused on the positive, discussing the political fallout that the incident has created inside our movement and NUMSA’s resolution.

A young labour activist was eager to talk following the screening and he committed himself to getting the film shown to as many sympathetic trade unions as possible and to visit South Africa soon. A young festival volunteer subsequently wrote to ask how she could help with our campaign in France and we now have plans for her to assist in translating the film into French.

It was heartening to see that these people felt as indignant as our own. Indeed an injury to one is an injury to all.

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