In 1976, in South Africa during apartheid, Ben Du Toit (Donald Sutherland) is a South African school teacher at a school for whites only. One day the son of his gardener, Gordon Ngubene (Winston Ntshona), gets beaten by the white police after he gets caught by the police during a peaceful demonstration for a better education policy for black people in South Africa. Gordon asks Ben for help.
After Ben refuses to help because of his trust in the police, Gordon gets caught by the police as well and is tortured by Captain Stolz (Jürgen Prochnow). Against the will of his family, Ben tries to find out more about the disappearance of his gardener by himself. Seeing the disenfranchisement and helplessness of the black people, he decides to bring this incident up before a court with Ian McKenzie (Marlon Brando) as lawyer but loses. Afterwards, he continues to act by himself and supports a small group of blacks, including his driver Stanley Makhaya (Zakes Mokae), to interview others to find out what happened to Gordon.
The white police notices their intentions and detains some responsible persons. To file a civil suit, Ben collects affidavits and hides the information at his house. Ben lets his son in on his plans. His son and his daughter both get to know the hiding spots, and after the police searched through Ben’s house earlier, there is an explosion next to the hiding spot because the daughter betrayed it to the police, but the son saved the documents. Gordon’s wife, Emily (Thoko Ntshinga), is killed when she refuses to be evicted from her home. Ben’s wife and daughter leave. The daughter offers her father to get the documents to a safer place.
A Dry White Season is a 1989 American drama-historical film directed by Euzhan Palcy and starring Donald Sutherland, Jürgen Prochnow, Marlon Brando, Janet Suzman, Zakes Mokae and Susan Sarandon. It was written by Colin Welland and Euzhan Palcy, based upon André Brink’s novel of the same name. Robert Bolt also contributed uncredited revisions of the screenplay. It is set in South Africa and deals with the subject of apartheid. Brando was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
A Dry White Season (1989)
Directed by: Euzhan Palcy
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Janet Suzman, Jürgen Prochnow, Zakes Mokae, Susan Sarandon, Marlon Brando, Winston Ntshona, Thoko Ntshinga, Susannah Harker
Screenplay by: Colin Welland
Production Design by: John Fenner
Cinematography by: Pierre-William Glenn, Kelvin Pike
Film Editing by: Glenn Cunningham, Sam O’Steen
Costume Design by: Charles Knode
Set Decoration by: Peter James
Art Direction by: Michael Philips, Alan Tomkins
Music by: Dave Grusin
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: September 22, 1989