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Historic South African Film ‘Joe Bullet’ Coming to Blu-ray in the UK!

88 Films Set to Release Joe Bullet on Blu-ray on September 11th!

88 Films, the wonderful Blu-ray & DVD distribution company from the UK that I often rave about it, is set to release a pretty big film on September 11th. The film is Joe Bullet which has the distinction of being the first South African film with an all-black cast — a very important distinction made all the more important because it was released in 1973 under the repressive and racist regime of apartheid-era South Africa. As the official press release from 88 Films points out, South Africa in the 70’s enjoyed a bit of a boom in exploitation cinema, particularly Blaxploitation films, and this entire era of films has largely gone undocumented. The reason for this has a lot to do with the films being banned. Joe Bullet was quickly banned because it made the South African government very afraid.

Because of the ban a number of films, including Joe Bullet, have went undiscovered for years. Recently archivists Gravel Road Productions in Cape Town, South Africa discovered Joe Bullet and gave it a re-release. The film has been gathering steam and quickly picking up a rabid fan base proving it’s worthy of holding  a spot next to the Blaxploitation greats. 88 Films is planning to grow that base by introducing the film to Blu-ray (region B) for the first time anywhere in the world.

Given where we are as a society, particularly in the US, this film getting a wider release is very important. Representation matters.

“We are proud to unleash Joe Bullet in HD to the UK. South Africa’s apartheid regime should never be forgotten about, and the racial separation of the period will – I hope – always be remembered for its vast crimes against human rights,” 88 Films co-owner Richard Elliot states. “As such, being able to give to British fans a film of this importance, which was considered a threat to the state, is a thrill. Seen today and one might wonder what the fuss was all about – but, thanks to the inclusion of a wonderful audio commentary and an insightful booklet from historian and academic Dr. Calum Waddell – we believe we are able to offer some essential insight into how edgy this production really was. As 88 Films moves forward into our fifth year as a prime mover and shaker in cult cinema, we will continue to look at finding and restoring examples of moviemaking that has, so far, defied the popular conscience.”

“Ever since I was young I have marvelled at written documents of the apartheid regime and its eventual fall – thanks to such heroes as Nelson Mandela and the late Steve Biko,” fellow 88 Films co-owner James Blower adds. “As such, being able to release Joe Bullet is a wonderful achievement. I hope and trust that film buffs, as well as historians of South Africa’s turbulent politics, will embrace this DVD and have it as a pride of place in their 88 Films collection.”

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