Filmmaker and South African Rehad Desai won an Emmy for Best Documentary at the International Emmy Awards held in New York City on November 23, 2015. His documentary Miners Shot Down centers around the Marikana massacre, the most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since apartheid.
On August 10, 2012 at one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines, 3,000 mineworkers began a wildcat strike for better wages. (A wildcat strike is when unionized workers take strike action without informing the union leadership authorization or approval.) In response, the strikers faced opposition from the ANC government, and government allies in the National Union of Mineworkers. After six days of protest, on August 16th, police opened fire with machine guns on strikers. By the end of the strikes, 44 people were dead and 78 injured.
In an Al Jazeera interview, Rehad Desai discusses the origins of his documentary. At the time, Rehad Desai was in Marikana focusing on a story about the benefits and consequences of platinum mining to South Africa. When mineworkers began to strike, the story shifted to the Marikana massacre and strikes from the mineworkers’ point of view.
Since its release, the film has won scores of awards, from the Human Rights Jury Award by Amnesty International to the Audience Award at the African Film Festival. Desai’s documentary also won two awards at the South African Film & Television Awards earlier this year. Despite these acknowledgements, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has yet to broadcast the documentary. During an interview with Eyewitness News, Desai said he hopes this latest acclaim will push local broadcasting stations to air the documentary in South Africa.
To learn more about the documentary, visit its website or watch the trailer below.