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Archbishop Tutu Attends ‘Red Dust’ Premiere in Middle East

TRC Film Bridges The Cultural Divide

Red Dust, the gripping Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) suspense drama which stars Oscar Winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry), closed the inaugural Dubai International Film festival today to a rousing standing ovation. In attendance at the screening were former chairperson of the TRC, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, producer Anant Singh, director, Tom Hooper, star of the film, Jamie Bartlett as well as Gillian Slovo, the writer of the novel Red Dust on which the film is based. The screening was hosted by the His Highness, Prince Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum who is responsible for establishing the Dubai International Film Festival.

Red Dust is an intense, suspense drama set during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings and explores its decisive struggle to heal the wounds of apartheid atrocities. The film masterfully blends powerful characters with serious political and ethical questions about oppression and healing. In the film, African National Congress Member of Parliament Alex Mpondo and human rights lawyer Sarah Barcant find their lives changed forever by a hearing in the small town of Smitsriver.

Red Dust has special significance for the Middle East region which has been plagued by sectarian violence, as it tells of forgiveness and reconciliation. South Africa has emerged as a model nation in addressing human rights violations that were perpetrated within the context of the political conflict between the Apartheid government and the liberation movements of the country and can be adapted for the Middle East region in the quest for everlasting peace.

Neil Stephenson, Director of the Dubai Film Festival said, “We selected Red Dust for the festival because it is the finest new film to emerge from South Africa, a country that personifies cultural dialogue and forgiveness. We are proud to screen Red Dust as the Dubai International Film Festival’s closing gala and honour its message of intercultural reconciliation.”

Red Dust will have special significance in this region, as it is about forgiveness, and one’s ability to deal with the demons of the past,” said Anant Singh. “This region has experienced religious and political conflict over the years, and we hope that as we in South Africa have been able to emerge victorious against apartheid, and have a harmonious, peaceful country, that Red Dust plays a small role toward conflict resolution around the world,” continued Singh.

Archbishop Tutu in his address to the audience said, “I hope very, very much that the Dubai Film Festival will become a permanent fixture in the calendar of the world, because it has shown considerable great taste in choosing Red Dust as one of the films to be exhibited here. I want to also say how grateful and indebted we are to people like Anant (Singh), Tom (Hooper), Gillian (Slovo) and everyone who has been involved with Red Dust. I can assure you that you are going to find it a deeply moving film. I was amazed how authentically it captures the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that body in South Africa that said to all of us in the world that it is possible for enemies to become friends, that it is possible for people who are different in culture, faith and all kinds of ways to live as one community. Red Dust is such an appropriate film with which to close this wonderful festival as it is dedicated to the theme of bridging the gulf between different people and different cultures.”

Red Dust will be released in South Africa in early 2005 through United International Pictures (South Africa).

Directed by Tom Hooper and written by Troy Kennedy-Martin (Italian Job, Bravo Two Zero), Red Dust is a Distant Horizon and BBC Films production in association with Videovision Entertainment and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Ltd and is produced by Anant Singh, Helena Spring, David M. Thompson and Ruth Caleb and executive produced by Sanjeev Singh, Sudhor Pragjee and Joe Oppenheimer. Red Dust was shot in South Africa on location in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape and in Johannesburg.

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