Set in South Africa, 1985, this is a gripping and sophisticated political thriller full of intriguing and unexpected heroes. While the country is under siege, sanctions are
biting, Mandela's imprisonment is an international cause celebré, and the ANC guerrilla terrorist attacks are escalating. Every day the country is more ungovernable as it plunges towards the apocalypse of a race war.
In saner moments everyone knows the vile apartheid regime is doomed but will the transition to democracy be peaceful or bloody? Working for P.W. Botha as a somewhat Machiavellian Head of Intelligence, Doctor Neil Barnard opens furtive talks with Nelson Mandela who is still in prison. But lesser known are the secret talks that take place in the unlikely setting of a rural English manor house, arranged by a British businessman and sponsored by a mining company seeking to secure its own future in South Africa.
Both sides have everything to win or to lose, including their own lives. The stakes are immense, the secrecy imperative.
But while influential Afrikaners sit down face to face with their fiercest enemies from the ANC, led by future President Thabo Mbeki, Botha learns of the UK talks.
If the demise of apartheid is inevitable he intends to control the endgame by employing the tactics of divide and rule. Dr. Barnard must wring as many concessions out of Mandela as he can whilst instructing the Afrikaners to do the same with the ANC in the UK – then play one against the other.
Against all the odds, through volatile discussion, intrigue and breakthroughs, they achieve the unimaginable - a precious arena of frail trust between the two warring parties.
In the current climate of the expression "war on terror", this inspiring film has never had more relevance.
- Director: Peter Travis