SHEPHERDS AND BUTCHERS
Drama ( R16)
What effect do executions have on those who must witness a hanging, or handle the bodies afterward? This slow-burn courtroom drama is based on a novel by Chris Marnewick, a South African ex-high Court judge now living in New Zealand. The story is based on his experiences in the apartheid-era killing fields of the South African legal system, which executed 1123 inmates in the 1980s alone. Steve Coogan plays a lawyer defending death-row prison warden Leon Labuschagne, who shoots seven men in a roadside encounter after being part of 32 state executions in two weeks. Labuschagne, a teenager, worked with the condemned – feeding them, sitting with them during visits – before helping to hang them. The film slowly reveals the depth of the psychic cost to the young man in being both “shepherd and butcher”.