Cry Freedom

Synopsis: Donald Woods is chief editor of the liberal newspaper Daily Dispatch in South Africa. He has written several editorials critical of the views of Steve Biko. But after having met him for the first time, he changes his opinion. They meet several times, and this means that Woods and his family get attention from the security police. When Steve Biko dies in police custody, he writes a book about Biko. The only way to get it published is for Woods himself to illegally escape the country.
Production: MCA Universal Home Video
  Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
157 min




- Subtitle -

Completely fixed: titler

What is it?

What is it?


This is the English-language

service of Radio South Africa.

Here is the news,

read by Magnus Randall.

Police raided Crossroads, the illegal

township near Cape Town this morning,

after warning the squatters to vacate

the area in the interests of public health.

Several people were found

without work permits,

and many are being sent back

to their respective homelands.

There was no resistance to

the raid and many illegals

voluntarily presented

themselves to the police.

- I think you ought to have a look at him.

- Give me his chart.

Were you listening

to the radio?

If they'd caught him,

we'd have heard.

If the police had got Steve, especially with

the posters in the car and everything,... don't think that...?

Is that mine, Sister?

You don't think that'd

be the first news item?

No, because if the people

know they have him,

then they have to be more careful

about how they treat him.

- They think he's here.

- I must get back.

Let's have some coffee.

If the police in Cape Town had taken him,

that lot would be the first to know.

I think he's hiding.

He was with Peter Jones,

and Peter has no pass problem.

If Steve was arrested,

Peter would have phoned me.

Pass the milk.

Finished, Mr. Woods?

Yes, thanks.

- How'd you get these?

- Ah, we have ways.

- Do we dare to print them?

- For these I'll risk it.

- Yes, sir?

- Would you ask Tony to come in?

- I'll even give you a by-line.

- You're a prince.

They put me away, yours'll be the first

name on my lips. What about Mr. Biko?

Shall I use his name in the story?

His picture was everywhere.

- Think there was a meeting?

- There must have been one recently.

Biko couldn't have been

there of course, but,

one of his people, mouthing off

about black consciousness,...

- ... that I'd say was almost a certainty.

- Uh, I've rejigged it just a bit.

No, leave him out of it.

I want the police blamed for that raid.

- I'll take care of Biko in an editorial.

- Yeah, yeah. Ok.

One bunch of lunatics saying

white supremacy justifies anything,

all we need is some black nutcase saying

black supremacy's going to save the world.

I would like to know who's

responsible for this.

- May I ask who you are?

- Doctor Ramphele.

Doctor Ramphele.

I'll leave you.

I've read this paper long enough to

know you're not one of the worst,

so, it's all the more baffling,

that you would try to pass this

vicious fiction off as reasoned fact.

- Ah, well, Doctor...

- Ramphele.


I've stuck my neck out on this paper to

take a stand against white prejudice.

But if you think that

means I'll go soft,

on some sensationalist

pushing black prejudice,

well, you've brought your

complaint to the wrong man.

Black prejudice?

That's not what

Steve's about at all.

Your Mr. Biko is building a wall of

black hatred in South Africa,...

...and I will fight him as

long as I sit in this chair.

What you do in that chair

is put words in his mouth.

And you know he can't answer

because he's banned.

- I believe I know what Mr. Biko is about.

- Well, you believe wrong!

And he can't come to you.

If you were the honest newsman you

claim to be, you ought to go and see him.


Where are you from?

From South Africa.

But I was one of two,

to be granted a scholarship

to Natal Medical School.

I'm a...

...a token of your white

paternalistic concern,

for the natives of this land.

Well, I'm glad we didn't

waste our money.

I know you're not a fool,

Mr. Woods...

But you are uninformed.

Steve Biko is one of the few people

who can still save South Africa.

He's in King William's

Town right now.

That's his banning area.

- Good morning.

- Good morning.



- Mr. Donald Woods?

- Yes, I'm Donald Woods.

I'm Steve's wife. Please, come in.

He's expecting you.

Thank you.

But we're glad

you could come.

Father Russell got this for us.

You see, we're trying to make

a kind of community centre,

where black people can meet,

maybe have classes.

- The new dyes have arrived at last.

- Good, tell Tsinki.

- This way.

- Who's this one?

Oh, he's just a little

rascal like his father,

and even more trouble.

You'll find him out there.

Steve Biko?

- Are you Steve Biko?

- I am.

I would have met you

in the church, but,

as you know, I can only be

with one person at a time.

You see, if a third person comes

into the room, even to bring coffee,

that breaks the ban.

And the system, the police,

are just across the road.

But, of course, you would

approve of my banning.

No, I think your ideas are dangerous,

but, no, I don't approve of banning.

A true liberal.

It's not a title

I'm ashamed of,

though I know you regard

it with some contempt.

I just think that

a white liberal,...

...who clings to all the advantages

of his white world; jobs,

housing, education...

Mercedes... perhaps not best qualified to tell

blacks how they should react to apartheid.

I wonder what sort of liberal

you'd make, Mr. Biko,

if you were the one who had the job,

the house and the Mercedes,

and the whites

lived in townships.

It's a charming idea.

It was good of you

to come, Mr. Woods.

I've wanted to meet

you for a long time.

They follow you everywhere?

Rate this script:0.0 / 0 votes

John Briley

John Richard Briley is an American writer best known for screenplays of biographical films. He won the Academy Award For Best Original Screenplay at the 1982 Oscars for Gandhi. more…

All John Briley scripts | John Briley Scripts

0 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:

1 Comment
  • fromthedirectorof
    Can anyone tell me when in the movie there was a mention of pass laws? Or any scenes where we see the passport in general?
    LikeReply1 year ago


Translate and read this script in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)


Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


"Cry Freedom" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 17 Jun 2024. <>.

We need you!

Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

Watch the movie trailer

Cry Freedom


The Studio:

ScreenWriting Tool

Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.