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Shepherds and Butchers
Directed by
Oliver Schmitz

South Africa / 2016 / 106

US Premiere

Screening Times and Venues:

Q&A Attendees
*subject to change:
Brian Cox
It's 1987 in apartheid divided South Africa and 19-year-old Leon, a white death row warder, is on trial for his own life after the seemingly unprovoked gunning down of seven black men. When high-powered lawyer John Weber attempts to defend him, Leon remains taciturn. In a riveting performance, Weber ("Philomena" star Steve Coogan) painstakingly builds his case, provoking Leon (poignantly played by newcomer Gariod Dowds) to relive the darkest hours of the previous two years when, with no training, he cared for the condemned and escorted them to the gallows.

Integrating scenes inside the prison that are as horrifying as they are real, and with an inspired courtroom battle against prosecutor Andrea Riseborough ("Birdman"), we witness, in unprecedented detail, the unfolding of a societal ruthlessness that impacts everyone involved. How, importunes Weber, can we expect a man to come to grips with being both friend (shepherd) and executioner (butcher)? --Ben F. Fischer

Oliver Schmitz grew up and studied fine arts in Cape Town, at the same time joining a collective that ran a nightclub that successfully beat apartheid segregation laws and nurtured a generation of creative and militant youth.

In the 1980s he moved between Germany and South Africa, making his first feature, "Mapantsula", in 1987. It is the prominent anti-apartheid film of the era and Schmitz wrote a fake script to elude police and censors.

Schmitz has made five movies, four of which have screened in Un Certain Regard in Cannes. All but one have focused on South African subject matter. "Life, Above All" made it onto the Oscars shortlist for Best Foreign Film and won the jury prize at the Dubai International Film Festival, also winning the Francois Chalais award at Cannes, and the audience award and a Golden Alhambra nomination at the 2011 Granada Film Festival.

Cast/Featuring: Steve Coogan, Garion Dowds, Andrea Riseborough
Executive Producer(s): Robert Naidoo, Sudhir Pragjee, Sanjeev Singh
Producer(s): Anant Singh, Brian Cox
Director(s): Oliver Schmitz
Screenwriter(s): Brian Cox
Cinematographer(s): Leah Striker
Editor(s): Megan Gill
Production Designer(s): Mike Berg
Composer(s)/Music: Paul Hepker
Sound Designer(s): Nicky De Beer
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