Michael Ledeen

Jean-Yves Ollivier (JYO) unwinds the documentary’s narrative thread inside the labyrinth of Southern Africa. He is the lens through which Plot for Peace finds its focus.

At 17, JYO’s maiden political cause had been l’Algérie française. Together with a million other French, he and his parents had to flee their native soil at Algeria’s independence, in 1962. During his first visit to apartheid South Africa in 1981, he vowed to spare the whites – “sleepwalking at the brink of disaster” – a similar fate. To help them avoid being “thrown into the sea”, racial discrimination needed to come to a peaceful, negotiated end.

In exclusive interviews, several former heads of state – South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, Mozambique’s Joachim Chissano, Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso – and numerous other protagonists, such as apartheid’s longest-serving minister of Foreign Affairs “Pik” Botha, South Africa’s icon of resistance Winnie Mandela, Fidel Castro’s “African hand” Jorge Risquet as well as one-time US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Chester Crocker, the father of “constructive engagement”, bear vivid testimony. Their first-hand accounts disclose in full detail both the official and the secret dealings between the last tenants of apartheid and the Marxist regimes at South Africa’s borders.

A prisoners’ swap between six states or armed movements at war with each other prepared the Brazzaville Protocol, signed in December 1988. Regional peace, a sine qua non, thus opened the road for Mandela’s release.

Plot for Peace is a historical document – and much more than that.  An award winning, cosmopolitan team has combined words and visuals, interviews and archival footage, in conceptually as well as emotionally innovative ways. No voice of God narration is needed. Instead, a polyphonous conversation – in English, French, Portuguese, Afrikaans and Spanish – interlaces the factual woof and the subjective warp to weave a human drama, a documentary of  personal triumph and inspiration.


Archival material – often released here for the first time – has been researched in all countries involved in the Plot for Peace, namely South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, Cuba, the United States, France, Portugal and the former Soviet Union. In addition, original HD footage is woven seamlessly with rolls of 16 mm film from the “border war” discovered in the former South African Defence Force’s buried archives. Many of the stories and, indeed, artistic expressions behind South Africa’s war in Angola are only now, twenty years later, being told.