By Miv Evans
In this thriller, subterfuge is played out against an ancient backdrop of political struggle. Every aspect is compelling but, at times, the narrative gets bogged down and lacks clarity. But even at its foggiest, the story whispers, ‘It’s the truth.’ The writing may not be the best but Death of a Whistleblower isn’t just a film. It’s a whistleblower in and of itself.
Luyanda Masinda’s (Noxolo Dlamini’s) is a South African investigative journalist. One night she ends up in a Johannesberg bar with a fellow wordsmith, Stanley Galloway (Rob van Vuuren). Galloway is the editor of a high-profile political outlet and attractive enough for Luyanda to accept his invitation to go home with him. The following morning, just after they leave Galloway’s apartment, their car is rammed, The two are surrounded and Galloway is assassinated. Luyanda escapes relatively unscathed but becomes consumed with her quest to track down the people who orchestrated her lover’s death.
The deeper Luyanda digs, the more dangerous her quest becomes. Within days, she discovers that South Africa may be a victim of state capture. Evidence points to a corrupt group of politicians who are covertly hiring out government troops, military equipment and chemical weapons to rogue African countries. There is a moment of story clarity when the intrepid Luyanda confronts a military elite about what she has discovered. It’s a long journey to get to this point, but perhaps the filmmaker wanted to make sure no one gets left out when the lid is finally blown open.
There is more than one person to whom the title of this film could be referring. The obvious choice is Stanley Galloway who was planning to whistleblow on a global scale. Then there is Albert Loots (Irshaad Allywho), a military employee who dices with death by smuggling top secret data on a daily basis. The third contender is Luyanda herself, who pokes the bear with no thought for personal safety. Sadly, these three are not alone. The remaining contenders are listed at the end of the film. They’re amongst the many who, like Galloway, paid the ultimate price for loving their country.
Perhaps this film explains South African’s perpetual absence on the global stage. Israel, with a population of nine million, is never out of the news. South Africa, with a population of 60 million, is never in it. It could be that that’s how the government has engineered it, or it could be that the the world isn’t yet ready to let go of the Mandela Fairy Tale. Surely Apartheid didn’t get replaced by something that can’t even pass the smell test?
Toronto International Film Festival
*Saturday, September 9th at 2:45pm EST
TIFF Bell Lightbox (Cinema 1)
Additional Public Screenings:
*Sunday, September 10th at 9:40pm EST
ScotiaBank (Cinema 7)
*Sunday, September 17th at 10pm EST
ScotiaBank (Cinema 10)