Biography

Kevin Harris is a South African who has lived and worked as an independent filmmaker in South Africa for the past thirty-two years.

In November 2007, Kevin Harris was awarded the Golden Horn Film & TV Award for Life-time Achievement in Documentary Film-making by the National Film & Video Foundation of South Africa.

Kevin Harris’ independent career began in October 1979 when he was fired by the Apartheid controlled SABC TV regime for ensuring the uncensored broadcast of his documentary “BARA”, which went behind the scenes of an overcrowded Baragwanath Hospital and exposed the oppressive social / environmental conditions under which the community of Soweto were forced to live in the township.

“BARA” was awarded the Star Tonight Best Documentary Award for 1979.

In 1982 he made his first independent documentary.

“This We Can Do For Justice & For Peace” gave expression to the standpoint of the South African Council of Churches in opposing Apartheid in South Africa – through the concerned perspectives of General Secretary Bishop Desmond Tutu & SACC President Peter Story.

Restricted in South Africa, but broadcast in the USA by NBC under the title, “Land of Courage, Land of Fear”, the documentary was awarded two Emmy Awards.

In 1986, he conceived & produced the alternative series of documentary reports on South Africa during the “state of emergency” under the Apartheid regime, titled “South Africa Now”.

Developed for weekly broadcast by Danny Schechter [ Globalvision] on PBS, “South Africa Now”, continued to expose the injustice and brutality of Apartheid and successfully challenged the content of sanitized mainstream USA network coverage of the South African situation from 1987 to 1990.

Two international co-productions – “Witness to Apartheid” [1986 – Sharon Sopher ] & “The Cry of Reason” [1989 – Bob Bilheimer ] – both received USA Academy Award nominations.

In November 1987, Kevin Harris appeared as a specialist witness for the defence in the “Delmas” Treason Trial.

In 1988 he exposed the brutality of the South African Security Forces military occupation of Namibia, in 1988 with the documentary “Namibia – no easy road to freedom”.

In 1990, the documentary “Namibia – Rebirth of a Nation” examined the bitter-sweet legacy facing an Independent Namibia looking to rebuild a country ravaged by decades of war and military occupation.

In 1990 he also developed & instituted an AIDS-awareness work-shopping project with the youth of Sharpeville Township out of which the docu-drama “MARGINS – Youngblood” documentary series was created.

Community film projects include the two dramatized documentaries, “The Right Time” & “Tomorrow’s Parents”. Work-shopped with the youth, these films examine many facets of life in the townships including issues such as unwanted teenage pregnancies & the breakdown in “parent-child” communication.

He served as Media Representative for the PPHC-AWG Network [ Progressive Primary Health Care – Aids Working Group] in 1991 & 1992.

In 1992, Kevin Harris was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Film in S.A.

Since democracy in 1994, Kevin Harris has to date produced & directed a significant number of South African feature documentaries on a variety of current social social & political issues – broadcast by SABC Television, MNET & e-TV.

He has also Produced & Directed international co-production ventures with M-NET, ZDF & ARD1[ Germany ], ABC TV [ Australia ] & PBS [ USA ].

International co-productions include:

“Unfinished Business” – 1999 – Investigation into the torture and execution of exiles by ANC Military Tribunal at Quatro Camp [Awarded a “Special Commendation” by the United Nations Media Peace Awards]

“Judgement Day” – 2008 – Documentary feature on the current situation in Israel / Palestine taking as a reference point the struggle for liberation in South Africa. [Awarded Best Documentary – Apollo Film Festival]

In September 2004, Kevin Harris initiated the Documentary Director Mentorship Program in association with the National Film & Video Foundation – to promote economic empowerment, sustainability and skills development in the South African film and television industry by mentoring young South African documentary producer / directors.

Kevin Harris’ most recent documentary productions include:

“Desmond & Leah Tutu – A Love Divine” – 2006

– [ the 24 min documentary on the 50 yr relationship of Archbishop Desmond & Leah Tutu as husband & wife ]

“In the Dock” – 48 min – 2007

– [ an introspective autobiographical journey by local South African anti-Apartheid film-maker Kevin Harris – looking back at his life-experience and the circumstances that put him on the long road to The Delmas Treason Trial ]

“In the Shadows of Beau Bassin” – 48 min – 2007

– [ “In the Shadows of Beau Bassin” is the little known saga of 1581 Jewish refugees deported to Mauritius in 1940 and detained at Beau Bassin Prison for some four and a half years during World War II ]

“From the Edge” – 2009 / 2010 – a documentary-director mentorship project

Kevin Harris mentored ten first-time documentary directors with the twelve-part documentary series, “From the Edge” – supported by the NFVF – and commissioned by SABC2, broadcast in 2011.

“Zimbabwe – past the post …. on a dark horse” – 2011 – Episodes 1 & 2

An intimate and engaging documentary on contemporary Zimbabwe – viewed through the window provided by the Zimbabwe horse-racing fraternity and their celebration of the  Golden Jubilee held at Borrowdale Race Course in June 2009

“Umuhle … Omubi – the good one, the bad one” – [2012 / 13] – The story of John Sydney Marwick who led the 10 x day march from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg in 1899 to repatriate 7 000 Zulu labourers stranded on the Rand & faced with starvation & destitution with the outbreak of the second Anglo Boer War.
Click here to view the video

“Remember Dr Melville Edelstein – the life & death of a good man” – [2012 / 13] – The life and times of Dr Melville Edelstein murdered by a crowd of enraged students after the police shootings that precipitated the June 16th 1976 uprising in Soweto.
Click here to view the video

“VERCINGETORIX – the legacy – 2014″ – 22 minute documentary on the Riverside Grooms’ Coop & how they bought, reared & sold for 1.4 Million Rand the South African bred champion Vercingetorix.

“TO BE A CHAMPION – 2014″ – 48 minute documentary on the 2013 / 2014 National Jockey Championship & what it took for 28-yr-old S’manga Khumalo to be the first Black jockey to take the title.

PERSONAL DETAILS

  • Born in Pietermaritzburg, Natal on 5th May 1950.
  • Qualified at the end of 1973 with a B/Sc. Engineering – Electrical – degree from the University of Natal, Durban.
  • Entered the film & broadcasting industry – trained & employed by the SABC Television Service from the begning of 1974.
  • Was fired from SABC TV in 1979 for contriving to ensure the uncensored broadcast of his documentary on Soweto & Baragwanath Hospital tled, “BARA”
  • Has worked as an independent film maker in South Africa ever since.

Married, with two adult children, Kevin Harris lives with his wife & family in Johannesburg.