The Hangman: transcending expectations of the armed struggle

Directed by SA filmmaker Zwelethu Radebe, “The Hangman” tells the story of a black warder faced with an impossible choice.

The apartheid story is one of an armed struggle against the systematic oppression of people of colour in South Africa. Director Zwelethu Radebe situates individual stories within the greater narrative of this oppressive regime in The Hangman. The film uncovers personal struggles that individuals and different families experienced during apartheid. It explores identity, sacrifice and truth.

As a South African artist, Radebe has made it his mission to tell stories that unpack the intricacies of the country’s history. “As we understand where we come from we understand ourselves better and are empowered to engage with our present environment with wisdom, understanding and sensitivity,” he explains.

The film tells the story of a black prison warder, guarding black prisoners. It explores the tensions between the warder and inmates who see him as a traitor while it also explores the tensions between the warder and his white colleagues. The narrative becomes even more complex when an estranged family member is incarcerated in the prison.

“Narratives such as The Hangman do the job of highlighting who we are as humanity, beyond racial stereotypes and issues,” says Radebe, adding that the 24-minute film mirrors the challenges still faced by South African families today.

“I hope to challenge audiences by drawing attention to the hidden consequences of some of the choices we make. Even though we might think what we’re doing is right, the outcome may be destructive.”

The film is set to hit international film festivals in September 2016.