Stander (Canada/UK/South Africa, director Bronwen Hughes): Andre Stander was a police captain in South Africa. In 1976, during riot duty, he shoots and kills a young black man. Deeply disturbed by his place in the apartheid society, he begins robbing banks, while still working as a police officer. After more than two dozen robberies, he is apprehended and sentenced to 32 years in prison. After two years, he breaks out of prison along with two accomplices and soon the “Stander Gang” are at it again, robbing dozens more banks (as many as five in one day). This unbelievable and yet true story is told with gusto by director Bronwen Hughes. One of my friends was vaguely surprised that a female director could be so true to the way male friendships and camaraderie operate, but Hughes does a great job. Because the story takes place in the ’70s and ’80s, the art direction was crucial, too, and it’s pulled off magnificently, aided by a jazzy and slightly campy soundtrack. The film seemed like a joyous remix of Bonnie and Clyde, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Catch Me If You Can, and even Starsky and Hutch.
In my opinion, the only thing that would have made it better would have been a little more insight into what Stander really thought of the white society in South Africa, and what his real motives were, if any. Was anarchy all he believed in?