Next month, South Africa will host the FIFA World Cup - the most widely viewed sporting event on earth. As many as 500,000 fans from around the world are expected to visit the country, as 32 national squads - from Algeria to Uruguay - compete for a place in football history.
For South Africa's 50 million citizens, this will be the culmination of an extraordinary journey. Until 1994, the country was reviled internationally for its system of institutionalized racial discrimination, or apartheid. Few who lived under this system could have imagined that South Africa would embrace civil rights and democracy in the course of their lifetimes, let alone win the respect of the international community.
Five Roads to Freedom: From Apartheid to the World Cup is an original new Canadian documentary that looks at South Africa's revolutionary transformation through the eyes of five men and women who lived under the shadow of apartheid.
VisionTV presents the Canadian television premiere of Five Roads to Freedom on Tuesday, June 8 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. The hour-long film repeats on Thursday, June 10 at 11 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT.
"This is the real, human story behind the World Cup," says Toronto-based filmmaker Robin Benger, who co-wrote and co-directed the documentary with South African colleague Jane Thandi Lipman.
Five Roads to Freedom introduces the viewer to five individuals from across the social and political spectrum: ordinary people whose experiences are representative of the profound changes of the past 15 years - and whose lives in 2010 reflect both the promise and the ambiguities of today's South Africa.
They are: a white ex-policeman who has renounced his racist past and devoted himself to the ideals of revered former president Nelson Mandela; a Zulu warlord who has escaped punishment for his murderous actions under apartheid; the sister of a slain African National Congress leader, who has waited in vain for a word of apology from the killers; a wealthy white lawyer who lost everything because of the disgrace of an interracial love affair; and a gifted young football phenom from the townships who, as goalkeeper for the national squad, symbolizes the still-fragile hopes of post-apartheid South Africa.
Five Roads to Freedom is a deeply personal project for filmmaker Robin Benger. As a South African student leader in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was arrested three times for anti-apartheid activities, and ultimately expelled from the country.
"South Africa is a transformative place - a story with implications throughout Africa and around the world," he says.
Five Roads to Freedom was produced for VisionTV by Toronto-based Cogent/Benger Productions. The Producers are Ian Ayres, Robin Benger, Eric Ellena, Jane Thandi Lipman, Joseph Oesi and Christopher Sumpton. Joan Jenkinson is the Executive Producer for VisionTV.
As a companion to Five Roads to Freedom, VisionTV also presents Robin Benger's award-winning 2004 documentary Madiba: The Life and Times of Nelson Mandela. This two-hour account of Mandela's journey from political prisoner to the democratically elected leader of a racially united South Africa, airs on Thursday, June 10 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
For more information on VisionTV programming, please visit www.visiontv.ca