South Africa: COVID-19 Took Laurence Dworkin - a Filmmaker Who Knew How to Fight


Covid-19 has made us feel like we are in a disaster movie. Mostly, the trouble has stayed at a safe distance, but if it comes for you it barges in with all the belligerence of an apartheid security police raid. It came for documentary filmmaker Laurence Dworkin on the night of Sunday 17 May after he had fought it for two weeks.

Laurence Dworkin knew how to fight. He learnt all about that in the 1980s as a founder member with Rapitse Montsho, Nyana Molete and myself of the VNS/Afravision video collective. It was a semi-clandestine video unit set up to document the uprisings sweeping South Africa. Start-up funds came directly from the ANC in a plastic bag handed over to Laurence in a backstreet London market. At that time, the act of receiving these funds carried a guaranteed hefty jail term. But Laurence knew about this risk and we all embraced it as we aimed to document what was for us the unfolding of the South African Revolution.

Our contact with the ANC had started a few years previously, while we were filming the 1981 anti-Republic Day protests. The National Party was making a big hoo-hah about the 20th...

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