Bram Fischer (film)

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Bram Fischer (2017) also titled An Act of Defiance is a 2017 film about the South African lawyer Bram Fischer who defended Nelson Mandela and his co-defendants at the Rivonia Trial of 1963 – 1964. The film was directed by Jean van de Velde and was featured in several film festivals.[1] The role of Bram Fischer is played by Peter Paul Muller.[2] The film runs for 124 minutes and is in both English and Afrikaan.[3]


In 1963, Nelson Mandela's inner circle of Black and Jewish activists, known as the Umkhonto we Sizwe, are arrested by the apartheid South African government for conspiracy to commit sabotage. The group joins Mandela in prison and is being held indefinitely without formal charge due to the government's 90-day detention law.

Bram Fischer, a sympathetic lawyer and head of the bar, risks his career and freedom to defend Mandela and the men from facing the death sentence. Over the course of the film it is revealed that Bram is also part of Mandela's inner circle and becomes subject to a secret police investigation. The film ends with the trial's conclusion, Mandela and the others get life imprisonment instead of the death penalty, and shortly after Bram is arrested.[4] The film is an adapted screenplay based on Joel Joffe’s book, The State Vs. Nelson Mandela.[5]


The film has been screened in a number of film festivals including 36 Jewish Film Festivals[6]


  • Netherlands Film Festival
  • Cape Town International Film Market & Festival (CTIFM&F)[5]
  • UK Jewish Film Festival


  • Vancouver South African Film Festival[7]
  • Milwaukee Jewish Film Festival[1][3]
  • Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) in Australia and New Zealand
  • South Carolina Jewish Film Festival
  • Port Townsend Film Festival


  • Toronto Jewish Film Festival[8]


The film won two Golden Calf awards from the Netherlands Film Festival:

The film won an award from the UK Jewish Film Festival,[9] the Dayton Jewish Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival.[10]


  1. ^ a b Thompson, Parker (2 October 2018). "Jewish Film Festival Features Movies From Around the World".
  2. ^ An Act Of Defiance, EYE International
  3. ^ a b "Jewish Film Festival includes Bollywood, Mandela, Perlman". 4 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Lights, camera, action! Jewish Film Festival comes to The Nick".
  5. ^ a b "2017 CIFM&F to open with An Act of Defiance: The Bram Fischer Story".
  6. ^
  7. ^
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  10. ^

External links[edit]