An Act of Defiance


Netherlands, South Africa, 2017

Director: Jean van de Velde 

English and Afrikaans with English subtitles

Historical Drama

124 minutes


On a winter’s day in July 1963 the South African police raid a farm in the village of Rivonia. Nine black and white leaders of the banned ANC and the Spear of the Nation are arrested. A tenth member is added who had been arrested earlier: Nelson Mandela.

When the families of the suspects try to find a lawyer to defend the accused, the potential candidates are afraid or unwilling to take the case. The widely respected lawyer Bram Fischer hesitates. He is the Dean of the Bar Association, counsel for major mining magnates and scion of a prominent Boer Family. But Bram hesitates for other reasons: he has a secret that only a few know – he should have been the eleventh accused, and only by luck was he not present in Rivonia, when the others were arrested. Fischer decides to take on the defense.

Putting his own life and that of his wife and children in jeopardy, Bram becomes the man who succeeds in preventing Nelson Mandela and the others from going to the gallows. ‘Life! It’s life!’ is what the free world is shouting when the verdict of life imprisonment is proclaimed.

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