Documentary Film in Development:

Music Beyond Borders in partnership with Lindy Wilson Productions and Afravision (Cape Town)


The Story of Music in the Apartheid Jails

(working title)

You could sing your way out of pain and survive.

(Mark Shinners, Robben Island prisoner 493/63)

Our documentary film is about music in the apartheid prisons and its crucial role as a tool for resistance, survival and propelling social justice by political prisoners during the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa (1948-1991), with a special focus on Robben Island and the women’s jails.


Singing is part of the cultural life of South Africans, especially black South Africans, singing is part of our very rich culture. … Every facet of our life is celebrated through music. So when you go to jail the tradition continues … When you are down, music uplifts the spirit, gives you hope. … You cannot stop a political prisoner from talking, you cannot stop an African from singing.

(Lionel Davis, Robben Island prisoner 366/64)

 Our film is a celebration of 20 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa. It serves as a tribute to the unsung heroes of the liberation struggle on this important anniversary in order to promote democratic values and human rights on a universal level.


For additional information about the film storyline, see “Current Project in South Africa”

Please visit our Facebook Page for current production shots and comments on recording, interviewing and filming sessions of music and struggle stories from South Africa’s notorious Robben Island prison (which held Nelson Mandela for 18 years), launched in April 2013 in Johannesburg and the Gauteng province. MBB reunited a group of former Robben Island political prisoners from Sharpeville township, Soweto and the Pretoria area to sing their prison music in the South African Broadcasting Studios in Johannesburg. This music, never before recorded by apartheid prison veterans, was crucial to their survival during years of imprisonment for daring to fight for racial equality and human rights for all. It will form an original part of our film soundtrack.



AFRAVISION evolved out of the VNS video collective that documented struggles in South Africa from the early 1980s until 1994. Formed by Laurence Dworkin, Mokoenyana Molete and Brian Tilley, THE UNIT worked closely with the unions and civil society organizations within South Africa and co-ordinate directly with the ANC in exile. The archive built up during this time is the most comprehensive and in-depth of the period running to three thousand hours. It covers strikes, township clashes with police, funerals, union congresses, students and communities organizing and many other struggle events. This archive is now housed at the Robben Island museum. Afravision has produced films for a range of global broadcasters, including BBC, Chanel Four and Arte. In more recent years, Afravision has produced two archive-based series, History Uncut and Leaders Uncut, and specializes in servicing and developing historical documentaries.


Lindy Wilson (director, Lindy Wilson Productions) made her first film Crossroads in 1978 when South Africa’s apartheid government developed its forced removal policy, which displaced thousands of South Africans because of the colour of their skin. In 1983 she recorded the removal of one of the last families of 60 000 people removed from District Six in Cape Town. Later she visited the banished Dr. Mamphele Ramphele and recorded her remarkable clinic in a remote rural area. Robben Island Our University was the first film made (clandestinely) about the conditions and morale of political prisoners on Robben Island, three years before the release of Nelson Mandela. With negotiations underway for a democratic South Africa, she made A Travelling Song, about its transition and potential. In 1994 she produced the Unbanned Series, sixteen films made by independent directors which South Africans had not been allowed to see under apartheid. The extraordinary cover-up by police of the murder of seven young men which was unravelled by the Investigative Unit of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission is revealed in The Guguletu Seven. Her current film, For Which I Am Prepared to Die is a journey of discovery about the man who master-minded The Great Escape of World War II, her uncle Roger Bushell. See

CAROLYN CAREW (producer, Born Free Media) is an award-winning producer with 30 years experience in producing world-class feature length films and documentaries, television dramas, youth formatted shows, commercials and social marketing campaigns.  She recently completed her feature film, THE NUMBER, directed by Khalo Matabane and premiere in Toronto in September at TIFF 2017.  She produced Nelson Mandela, the myth and me, directed by Khalo Matabane and won Special Jury at IDFA, November 2013.  It was a co-production with BBC and ZDF / ARTE with Gebrueber Beetz Filmproduktion in Berlin, Germany. She produced, NELSON MANDELA, THE MYTH AND ME, which won the Special Jury Award at IDFA 2013. One of her other documentary feature films she produced Sobukwe; A Great Soul, 108 mins won 5 awards at the SAFTAS, Amnesty International for Human Rights in 2011 at the Durban International Film Festival, and Best Documentary at ZIFF.   “When We Were Black” a 4 x 1-hour drama series season 1 won 7 awards at the SAFTAS in 2007, best drama at Fespaco in 2008 and Reims International Film Festival in 2009. She has produced in excess of 300 hours of television in her 28 years’ career.  Her work has been screen on Canel +, ARTE, ZDF, NHK, DR, YLE, and distributed by PBS USA and played at A Festivals around the world. She runs an African social marketing campaign across 38 African Countries on the African Continent. She been an Interntional Emmy Judge for the last four years in Feature Documentaries. Carolyn holds a degree in Social Sciences and post-graduate studies in Human Resources Management from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She began her career in the feature film industry in 1987 as an Assistant Director. She was featured in Forbes Africa in 2012 for her formidable body of work and served on the inaugural council of the NATIONAL FILM AND VIDEO FOUNDATION appointed by the President of South Africa.  She served on training bodies for the transformation of the South African Industry. She is currently in development with three feature films and working with a USA based Producer to film in SA during 2016. See

Brian Tilley (executive producer, Afravision) started out in film documenting the struggles that swept away the Apartheid government in South Africa.  He shot and directed several award winning documentaries that were screened on television around the world. Amongst them are FRUITS OF DEFIANCE, JO’BURG STORIES and IT’S MY LIFE, which was screened in the Joris Ivens competition at IDFA and on several international television channels. Brian works in both fiction and documentary. He wrote and directed the mini-series THE LINE aka IN A TIME OF VIOLENCE co-produced with Channel Four, YLE and ARTE, which sold to 32 countries. He has initiated, head-written and directed several South African drama series. He produced the short films for the Steps’ WHY DEMOCRACY documentary series and subsequently produced both the eight long and forty short films for the global WHY POVERTY series that was sold to 70 international broadcasters. In 2014 he directed four films for the Al Jazeera documentary series LIFELINES and has recently completed directing the six part documentary series MY NIGERIA for Al Jazeera. He is busy with a follow on six part series MY CUBA.

Laurence Dworkin (executive producer, Afravision) has been involved in the film and television industry for over 35 years. He has worked as a producer, director and editor. He was a founder member of the internationally acclaimed anti-apartheid video grouping Video News Services/Afravision, together with Brian Tilley and Nyana Molete. In the 10 years of its existence, VNS/Afravision produced more than 50 documentary films covering the struggle against Apartheid. In 1993 he was Series Director on Afravisions’ 5-part documentary on the history of the African National Congress (Ulibambe Lingashoni). He established Day Zero Film and Video Productions with Don Edkins. In 2000, Day Zero produced the largest ever documentary initiative in Southern Africa. The series, Steps for the Future, produced 45 documentary films on HIV/AIDS in the region. It won major international acclaim and has been broadcast in over 15 countries across Europe and North America. In 2004, he co-produced the 13-part series, History Uncut, together with Brian Tilley. The series was made to commemorate 10 years of democracy in South Africa using the unconventional approach of raw archive footage from the VNS/Afravision collection of the 80s to drive the stories. Since 2005, Dworkin has been co-director of STEPS, a leading non-profit organization that uses social documentary to give a voice to marginalized and disadvantaged communities. Its projects include two major global documentary series, Why Poverty and Why Democracy, which have been the recipients of numerous international documentary awards. See

Nancy Buirski (consulting producer) is the Director/Producer/Writer of THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR that recently had its World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival and will have its North American Premiere at the New York Film Festival this October. It was awarded the prestigious Human Rights Nights Special Prize for Human Rights this year at the 74° Venice Biennale. Buirski is the Director/Producer/Writer of BY SIDNEY LUMET (2015) that had its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. She Produced/Directed/Wrote AFTERNOON OF A FAUN (2013), World Premiere at the 51st New York Film Festival, International Premiere at the 64th Berlinale and record-breaking U.S theatrical release by Kino Lorber. She is Director/Producer/Writer of the Oscar shortlisted, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning THE LOVING STORY (2012). She is a Producer of LOVING by Jeff Nichols. She is directing ENDANGERED, an animated feature based on Eliot Schrefer’s YA novel and will direct a narrative version of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN. Buirski is a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences. She founded and ran the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. She is the photographer and author of EARTH ANGELS: MIGRANT CHILDREN IN AMERICA.

Nancy Galdy (executive producer), see About Us.

Janie Cole (head of research/executive producer) see About Us.

Gaëlle Mourre (editor) is an award-winning film writer, producer, director based in London. Her latest short film, THE FEAST, stars Katie Leung and is currently on its festival run. Her graduation short film, AWAKENING, won Best Drama at the NY International Short Film Festival (2015). It has also screened at many festivals, including Palm Springs, Fantasporto, and LA Shorts. She produced and directed PROJET LUMIERE(S) – a cinema trailer for the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni’s fundraiser, starring Lambert Wilson – it is screening at the Ciné Lumière. Gaëlle is currently co-writing and developing an interactive comedic horror VR film, THE ANDROID, with co-writer L. P. Lee. It has been optioned by Digital Rise in partnership with DV Group and was selected by Google’s 2018 Jumpstart Program. She is also developing her next short film with animator Quentin Darras, a live action/animation mix, and is developing the treatment to her debut feature script, DRIVEN OUT. Gaëlle’s 2012 documentary CHASING CLOUDS was awarded a Merit by Best Shorts online. She also directed the short thriller, HOUSE OF LOCKS, and a French film, IN ENGLISH, part of LONDON I LOVE YOU, a feature premiering at the East End Film Festival in London in April 2018. She trained as a director and editor at the London Film School and holds an MA in Filmmaking. She works as a freelance writer, director, producer on international projects and is ready to travel to her next adventure. See


Our film is dedicated to the memory of former Robben Island and other political prisoners, and all the formidable activists of the anti-apartheid struggle.