Cry Freedom (1987): Attenborough’s Biopic, Starring Denzel Washington in his First Oscar Role

Richard Attenborough’s anti-apartheid biopic drama, Cry Freedom, was a follow-up to his Oscar-winning “Gandhi.” Denzel Washington gives a strong, Oscar-nominated performance as political activist Steve Biko, who was imprisoned and murdered after trying to raise opposition to the oppressive regime by attracting the attention of white South African editor Donald Woods (played by Kevin Kline).
Like other Hollywood’s films, the film is told from a narrow, white perspective, centering on Woods and his efforts to flee the country with his family.
Universal opened the movie in December, in time for Oscar considerations, with an extensive Academy campaign, but the movie was a box-office failure.
Oscar Nominations: 3
Supporting Actor: Denzel Washington
Song: “Cry Freedom,” music and lyrics by George Fenton and Jonas Gwangwa
Original Score: George Fenton and Jonas Gwangwa
Oscar Awards: None
 
Oscar Context:
The winner of the Supporting Actor Oscar was Sean Connery for “The Untouchables.”
“Dirty Dancing” won the Best Song, and “The Last Emperor” the Best Score.

 

 

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