“This is a case of murder. Murder seven times over.” “One hundred and sixty-four men were executed last year.” “I know what happens on death row. I was at all of the executions.” Inspired by true events ‘Shepherds and Butchers’ follows a jaded lawyer, John Weber (Steve Coogan) who takes on a seemingly hopeless multiple murder case and uncovers scandalous shortcomings in South Africa’s capital punishment system. A passionate opponent of the death penalty, Weber discovers that young Leon worked on death row in the nation’s most notorious prison, under traumatic conditions: befriending the inmates over the years while having to assist their eventual execution.
“These warders they get to know the men they are gonna hang. Nothing is worse than getting to know the men you are gonna hang.” “They through this boy into hell at 17 now he can’t speak a word to defend himself.” “You cannot ask a man to be both shepherd and butcher at the same time! It’s South Africa, 1987. When Leon, a white 19-year-old prison guard commits an inexplicable act of violence, killing seven black men in a hail of bullets, the outcome of the trial – and the court’s sentence – seems a foregone conclusion. However, Weber (Coogan), uncovers scandalous shortcomings in South Africa’s capital punishment system and mounts a defense for the prison guard who is traumatized by the executions he took part in.
“That man must pay for what he’s done.” As the court hearings progress, Weber puts the entire system of legally sanctioned murder on trial. How can one man take such a dual role of friend and executioner, becoming both shepherd and butcher? With a cast that includes: Andrea Riseborough, Steve Coogan and Deon Lotz the South African drama, directed by Oliver Schmitz, introduces young actor Garion Dowds. The film had its world premiere at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2016 and has a theater release date of March 3, 2017.
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