Lionel Rogosin, a beacon of American cinema in the 50s and 60s, travelled to South Africa supposedly to shoot a commercial documentary film on black music. Instead, he created a unique film that secretly documents life in the township (here the actors both play and invent their roles). Come Back, Africa is shaped by a renewed relationship between ethics and reality, and can be classed as both a historical film and a highly powerful political act. The simple and didactic story evokes the journey of a Zulu man who goes to the city to find work and provide for his family. At every turn, he meets with the segregation imposed by his white bosses. With real words, real anger, real images and real songs (including the first appearance of the towering Myriam Makeba, who Rogosin would later reveal to America), Rogosin prolongs in his own singular way Flaherty’s approach to cinema. What we see is Johannesburg in 1959; nothing more, nothing less.
J.B. / M.M.