During demonstrations in apartheid-era South Africa, police arrest not only activists but also Panic, a “mapantsula” or petty gangster. While a cop tries to get him to make incriminating statements, we learn in flashbacks how Panic got caught up in the township riots. Panic is only interested in partying, alcohol, and his girlfriend Pat, and stays away from the protests against exorbitant rents. But then Pat, who loses her job as a house maid because of him, cuts Panic loose, and his landlady’s son is taken away by the police … During the state of emergency imposed in South Africa in 1985, Mapantsula could only be made after a “bowdlerised” screenplay was submitted to the authorities. Grassroots opposition had reached a climax when the film was released and then promptly banned. Within a matter-of-fact crime story, it examines racial discrimination and day-to-day acts of resistance to the regime. Contemporary witness and film historian Jacqueline Maingard saw it at the time and remarked on the “euphoric intensity of the small audience, present at what felt like the first truly South African film”. World premiere of the digitally restored version.
by Oliver Schmitz
with Thomas Mogotlane, Marcel Van Heerdan, Thembi Mtshali, Dolly Rathebe, Peter Sephuma, Darlington Michaels, Eugene Majola, Gabriel Dichwabe, Brad Morris
South Africa / Australia / United Kingdom 1988 English, Zulu, Afrikaans 104’ Colour World premiere of the digitally restored version. | DCP: What The Hero Wants, London


  • Thomas Mogotlane
  • Marcel Van Heerdan
  • Thembi Mtshali
  • Dolly Rathebe
  • Peter Sephuma
  • Darlington Michaels
  • Eugene Majola
  • Gabriel Dichwabe
  • Brad Morris


Director Oliver Schmitz
Screenplay Oliver Schmitz, Thomas Mogotlane
Cinematography Rod Stewart
Editing Mark Baard
Music The Quens
Sound Alan Gerhardt
Art Director Robin Hofmeyr
Costumes Nadia Kruger
Make-Up Colleen Carrol
Producers Oliver Schmitz, Max Montocchio
Executive Producers Keith Rosenbaum, David Hannay

Produced by

One Look Productions

David Hannay Productions

Haverbeam Ltd

Additional information

DCP: What The Hero Wants, London