Bram Fischer was an Apartheid era activist most famous for defending Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, amongst other comrades, in the infamous Rivonia trial. The Rivonia trial took place after convicted members of the ANC conspired to commit sabotage and violent acts against the oppressive Nationalist government of South Africa. As if defending these men wasn’t a difficult enough choice for Bram Fischer, it became an even more daunting task when Mandela and his fellow comrades decided to plead not guilty despite all the evidence against them. The outcome of the trial led to the famous speech in which Mandela claims that fighting for equality is a cause which he is prepared to die for. Despite this speech, the judge makes no death sentences to the relief of Bram Fischer and everyone implicated negatively in this trial.
An Act of Defiance (Also referred to as Bram Fischer) is a biopic film which captures these events and elements of Bram Fischer’s personal life that surrounds it. As an Afrikaner raised in Apartheid-era South Africa, his choice to defend members of the ANC in the most important trial of his life caused great controversy and he wasn’t particularly liked by his own people. The film tells the tale of the difficult circumstances in which Bram Fischer chose to stand up for what he believed to be right, often needing to take risks at great personal expense. With the on-going assistance of his wife Mollie Fischer, their support of communism and their moral beliefs drove them to be involved in Anti-Apartheid activism, securing their names as political game-changers in history.
The film, shot in South Africa, is directed by acclaimed Dutch film-maker Jean van de Velde and stars Peter Paul Muller, Antoinette Louw and Sello Motloung. It had its SA release on 26 April 2019, and still shows at select cinemas. The film is shot exceptionally well with great performances all around, and is definitely worth the watch.