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12 Ratings

Shepherds and Butchers

Directed by Oliver Schmitz
Germany, United States, 2016


A lawyer takes on a case of a prison guard in South Africa who is traumatized by the executions he’s witnessed.

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Shepherds and Butchers Directed by Oliver Schmitz

Critics reviews

It takes a brutally unflinching look at capital punishment in late-Apartheid South Africa, examining with a most commendable directorial rigor and restraint what happens when a culture is rooted in compartmentalizing and secrecy, pitting people against each other—till first one person cracks, and soon the nation.
April 29, 2016
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This well-intentioned if somewhat heavy-handed historical affair is anchored by Coogan’s solid lead turn, with support from Andrea Riseborough as a hard-hitting state prosecutor and promising newcomer Garion Dowds as an executioner who could wind up facing the gallows. With the feel of a polished TV movie, the Berlinale Panorama premiere could drum up deals worldwide, though more likely for the small screen.
February 14, 2016
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For crafting a rare, disorienting perspective on capital punishment, Schmitz’s apartheid-era procedural “Shepherds and Butchers” deserves considerable credit. Less fresh or persuasive is the inelegant courtroom drama framing the boy’s trauma, though the roles it affords for Steve Coogan and an excellent Andrea Riseborough as ethically sparring lawyers will bring a modicum of international attention to this sincere, still-seething snapshot of a thankfully defunct national administration.
February 13, 2016
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