Plot for Peace
Film Review by Kam Williams
Revisionist History Chronicles Frenchman’s Secret Role in Toppling Apartheid
In 2009, I reviewed a movie called Endgame, a political potboiler which divulged, for the first time, the pivotal role a British professor named Will Esterhuyse played in the end of Apartheid. I remember feeling a little skeptical about the veracity of the alleged well-kept secret.
But here it is five years later, and we now have a Plot for Peace, a documentary staking a similar claim on behalf of another supposed critical figure who also ostensibly operated under the radar. This picture purportedly recounts how Jean-Yves Ollivier, a French businessman surreptitiously referred to as “Monsieur Jacques” in classified correspondence, orchestrated the dismantling of South Africa’s racist regime as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.
Granted, Mr. Ollivier has many luminaries lining up to testify on his behalf, including Winnie Mandela, who says, “He never said one word about his contribution.” Then, there’s attorney and African National Congress activist Mathews Phosa who points out that Jean-Yves “wouldn’t have received a medal from Mandela if he hadn’t played a role.”
Curiously, he’s the only person to be so honored by both the new and previous presidents.
What interested Ollivier in South Africa? He explains that he was a young expatriate living in Algeria during that nation’s independence movement. So, he saw the outcome as inevitable when civil war erupted in South Africa despite efforts of the United States and other Western countries to delay the inevitable by advocating the dubious “policy of constructive engagement.”
My only complaint about “Johnny Come Lately” productions like this and Endgame is the way in which they subtly minimize the contributions made by the revolutionaries who put their lives on the line in a very bloody, freedom struggle. These versions of revisionist history tend to marginalize such sacrifices while suggesting that the true hero was a lone wolf in a suit safely negotiating a resolution of the conflict from half a world away.
Regardless, the grassroots’ rallying cry remained, “Amandla!”
Very Good (2.5 stars)
In English, French, Portuguese, Afrikaans and Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 84 minutes
Distributor: Indelible Media