“The film is exquisitely crafted and structured. The actors may be amateurs but, as Brecht knew, this is not the same as being bad, and there are several terrific performances in Come Back, Africa; performances that are only richer for their volatility. Nkosi and Modisane both appear, as does fellow Drum writer Can Themba. The long shebeen scene, in which only Miriam Makeba’s arrival can end a drunken debate ranging across issues local, national and existential, is among the greatest pieces of cinema I’ve seen.”

For the rest of the review, click here!

SOME COME RUNNING. A review by Glenn Kenny!

“….You get the feeling that pretty much everyone involved is acting on behalf of his or her own life. Which of course is the case. And that’s even more awe-inspiring, when you think about it, than the film’s time-capsule value, which is considerable. Rogosin’s individual images of dusty Soweto and the teeming mines are striking and poignant, but the views of the center of workday Johannesburg are the most disarming and, finally, unsettling. The cars, the clothes, all very indicative of a completely up-to-date metropolitan locale. One big movie theater’s showing The Prisoner of Zenda, another is showingFiend Without A Face. It’s almost nostalgia-inducing, until you remember that this is Johannesburg…apartheid central. And then it hits you that, lack of particular skyscrapers aside, the place doesn’t look all that much different than pictures of New York City in the same period. And that’s terrifying.

Come Back, Africa plays at New York’s Film Forum through February 7. Go see it if you can, and look for the Milestone release in an arthouse near you… Martin Scorsese speaks the truth when he calls this “a heroic film.” 

To read the rest of this review, click here!

Louis Proyect Review of COME BACK, AFRICA

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Starting a one-week run tonight at the Film Forum in New York, a new 35 mm restoration of Lionel Rogosin’s “Come Back, Africa” is a truly special event. Made in apartheid South Africa in 1959, it is the first film to lift up a rock and expose the racist system to the light of day.

In defiance of the prevailing Cold War conformity and the Hollywood film industry’s assembly-line production of schlock, Rogosin became a guerrilla fighter using a Bolex camera rather than a machine gun. He had pledged to resist racism wherever he saw it and apartheid South Africa was about as tempting a target as could be imagined.

The National Party had won the elections in 1948 and instituted the system that was finally abolished with the legalization of the ANC and Nelson Mandela’s presidency. But in 1959 the system was in full bloom. Just a year after…

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Melissa Anderson on Come Back, Africa!


Come Back, Africa is filled not only with the sounds of Makeba’s mellifluous vocals but also those of the bands of boys in short pants and newsboy caps playing penny-whistles and the street buskers plinking out “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear.” Rogosin’s ruse that he was making a musical turned out to be partly true; yet no audio in Come Back, Africa is as piercing—or unshakable—as the keening heard in the closing minutes.

Read the rest here.

L Magazine review by Steve Macfarlane!


“You can feel the faith and energy of the film’s argument, the latitude granted the performers… Shooting during the continent’s first great wave of postcolonial independence, he [Rogosin] depicts the outlier apartheid system in ways both fiery and subtle—a straightjacket of forcible ignorance, made all the more heartbreaking by the despair it creates in its victims…”

Hands Off, Westerner – Review by Ryan Wells, Cinespect


After a recent conversation with Susan Weeks Coulter, chairwoman of the Global Film Initiative, whose Global Lens series is currently in full swing at MoMA before a cross-country tour, my mind—in a humanitarian, can-do state—wandered to recent cinema history. Where has cinema caused change to happen, to move the needle in the name of progress? When was the last time this occurred—not a polite discussion, but real social and political change?

I found myself coming back to these prodding questions upon a recent viewing Lionel Rogosin’s second feature “Come Back, Africa” (1959). The film, which aesthetically works as a blend of pioneer documentarian Robert Flaherty and Italian neorealist Vittorio De Sica, exposes the jaw-dropping racism and social injustice that has victimized black South Africans under the apartheid government since its enactment in 1948….

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