By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Though Noyce says Catch a Fire is specific to South Africa in the 1980s, it’s virtually impossible to watch the film without considering the new generation of terrorists and freedom fighters in conflicts around the globe, and the often-fine perceptual line separating the one from the other.
“It wasn’t really on my mind,” he says, “but I’m a firm believer in the value of history to tell the future, because we do repeat ourselves, and all too often we don’t look to the past for guidance. I would never claim that you could draw direct comparisons between what’s happening in the world today and this particular story, because I think it is about South Africans and their particular struggle. And I think this is a film not so much about the problem as it is about the solution. It goes well beyond resistance movements to the next stage — that’s what really attracted me to it.”
But Noyce notes that even the triumph of a free South Africa has been a bittersweet one for many South Africans.
“One might expect that in 2005, when the movie was filmed, that you would find it difficult to re-create a black township from back in 1980,” he says. “But we only had to go about 15 minutes from Victoria to come to a township that had no running water, no electricity, almost no cars, and certainly no TV aerials that would have to have been removed. You can free people from political oppression, but you can’t free them overnight from the economic repression that comes from such a well-oiled system as was apartheid. That economic apartheid is going to take generations to change. But out of all of that, the thing that I hope comes through in the film is the resilience, the positivity, the celebration at every stage of that struggle.
“That’s why the discovery of the freedom songs was a breakthrough to me,” Noyce says of the energetic inspirationals that became hymns to the anti-apartheid cause and which populate the Catch a Fire soundtrack. “Here’s a struggle that was fought as people sang. And in South Africa today, you’ll go into a township or you’ll go on a bus and you’ll hear those songs. People are singing — they’re singing through life.”
Catch a Fire opens in Los Angeles theaters on Friday, October 27.
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