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Sensational story hidden for over 40 years.
Sensational story hidden for over 40 years.
352 backers pledged £41,050 to help bring this project to life.

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£41,050

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***UPDATE 22/12/15  We made it! Thank you to everyone for your support and backing. A wonderful campaign and glad to have shared it with you. Any additional pledges still welcomed and additional funds raised as a result will still be of benefit to the film. Our thanks again.

Warm greetings and welcome to London Recruits - the sensational story of the young men and women who undertook clandestine missions for the ANC during the bleakest years of the apartheid regime. With your help, their gripping tale that remained secret for over 40 years, will come to the big screen for the first time. 

Ronnie Kasrils (left) recruited young Londoners for the missions, himself under instruction from the ANC leader in exile Oliver Tambo (right)
Ronnie Kasrils (left) recruited young Londoners for the missions, himself under instruction from the ANC leader in exile Oliver Tambo (right)

At a time when ANC membership was banned, its activists executed or imprisoned, exiled leader Oliver Tambo lit the fuse on a plan that saw young women and men travel to South Africa disguised as honeymooning couples, tourists and business trippers. Recruited by Ronnie Kasrils, working undercover in London, the volunteers exploited the ‘whites only’ policies of apartheid South Africa. Under the noses of the police they unfurled banners from landmarks, exploded home-made leaflet bombs at packed train stations and played rousing speeches to crowds from improvised sound systems, signalling to thousands of Africans living under the regime that the struggle for freedom was very much alive.

London Recruits: Mary Chamberlain, Norman Lucas and John Rose. The first missions were in 1969 and over the next five years Ronnie recruited and ran over 40 top secret missions into apartheid South Africa.
London Recruits: Mary Chamberlain, Norman Lucas and John Rose. The first missions were in 1969 and over the next five years Ronnie recruited and ran over 40 top secret missions into apartheid South Africa.

The huge personal risk involved in these missions was brought all too sharply into focus for those few who were caught, tortured and imprisoned. Many recruits remained anonymous long after apartheid had ended, reflective of the danger and secrecy of their missions against one of the 20th century's most brutal regimes. Now, nearly 50 years on, the legacy of their work can finally be celebrated on film. With unique access to the brave women and men who risked their lives in solidarity with the liberation struggle, London Recruits will tell their story. 

The Film

This is documentary as high drama. London Recruits is a thriller in every sense of the word. British and South African intelligence are hot on their heels, the recruits have little or no back up on the ground and for many this is their first trip abroad. There’s humour in their near misses, but the dangers are all too real. Those who are caught face torture and solitary confinement. The wider struggle often appears hopeless and the missions are absolutely secret, even from loved ones.

The film is a roller coaster adventure that offers a timely challenge to us today: in a world still full of racism and injustice, have any of us got what it takes to be London Recruits? We will mix archive footage, interviews and dramatisation to tell this dramatic thriller about those who risked their lives for what is right.

The Timeline

We have recorded initial interviews with many of the London Recruits, alongside work conducted on the ground in South Africa. We've tracked down journalists, police officers and security officials who were involved in the events as they unfolded. We've met with eye witnesses who remember the leaflet bombs, the banners and the sense of euphoria when spirits were lifted by successful missions. 

We are preparing the final shooting script for the drama reconstruction elements. We will shoot the bulk of that reconstruction in the summer of 2016, with a premiere in mind for the autumn.  

The Team

We've assembled an amazing team for London Recruits, a crew that can deliver a great result for this important story. Heading up the project are Barefoot Rascals, a production company led by Gordon Main and Peter Edwards. They put compelling stories and great characters into the heart of everything they do. We have the overwhelming support from many of the London Recruits whose participation and contribution to the film is paramount. Moreover, Ronnie Kasrils has lent the production his full backing and is a vital player as we uncover the secrets and mysteries of this fascinating time in the South African struggle. 

Ronnie Kasrils with London Recruit Ken Keable. The film is based on Ken's book of the same name.
Ronnie Kasrils with London Recruit Ken Keable. The film is based on Ken's book of the same name.

Why Crowdfund?

We have raised seed development funding from Ffilm Cymru Wales and received support from trade unions in the UK. Those unions were at the forefront of the international struggle against apartheid with their members playing a crucial role in solidarity work. We have carried out initial research and interviews but rely upon an injection of fresh funding to bring us into production. We appreciate the story will have wide appeal to a generation who participated in the anti apartheid movement alongside a new generation that draws inspiration from it. We've carefully chosen rewards we think you will like and in the spirit of the story. 

By backing the campaign you'll play an integral role to realise the project and become part of the London Recruits community of friends and supporters. Every penny will help get this project made. The producers are committed to paying cast and crew fairly and we face the costs that come with shooting abroad; transportation, rentals and so on. Funding independent films is tougher than ever and eternal thanks and gratitude go to those who'll help us fulfil this part of our budget.

We hope our friends and supporters will enjoy sharing this incredible journey with us and play a part in getting such a vitally important story to the big screen.

Risks and challenges

Making films is a privilege as well as our passion. For you to share this new journey involves a trust in us and a belief in our work and for that we are truly grateful. We have drawn enormous inspiration from the story of the London Recruits. Their courage and sacrifice guides us as we attempt to do justice to their story in this film.

We have set in momentum a project which we are absolutely committed to completing to the highest standard. No compromise in our dedication to the London Recruits, a project we are truly honoured to depict on film.

We have already collated a significant amount of material; fascinating interviews with those who were engaged in the events along with archival sources uncovered for the first time. With the remainder of the budget fulfilled we can progress to the final stages of the shoot. We are fortunate to have such a wide net of support and passion for the project, and the most talented and dedicated production team in place to ensure we can deal with problems that might arise on our journey. Thanks so much for taking the time to read our pitch, we look forward to welcoming you to the London Recruits community.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £15 or more About US$ 20

    The Solidarity Pledge - thanks for your vital support! Thank you also for believing in the project. We will send you a digital still from the production to download and keep. Each still will be different so when you join the community you'll have a part of the project to keep. We'll also send thanks to you on our social media platforms and keep you updated with the project.

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    Pledge £25 or more About $33

    Sincere thanks and gratitude to you. Own a unique piece of London Recruits history - a limited edition print of one of the original leaflets. Exclusively numbered and signed by Ronnie Kasrils. Free shipping in the EU, a £5 charge to send anywhere else in the world.

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    Pledge £30 or more About US$ 40

    Exclusive Tour! Learn first hand from one of the recruits. Meeting in Central London, you'll undertake a walking tour taking in the secret meeting spots. Find out where recruits were instructed and debriefed. We'll retire to a pub for a drink (on us!) to continue the discussion. Good conversation guaranteed. Available on mutually agreeable dates. Travel to and from London not included.

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    Pledge £35 or more About $46

    Signed copy of the book. Edited by Ken Keable, London Recruits: The Secret War Against Apartheid with an introduction by Ronnie Kasrils and foreword by Pallo Jordan. Signed by Ken and Ronnie. The perfect gift.

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    Pledge £40 or more About $53

    Pot Luck - short of reading material? Ronnie Kasrils will select a book just for you and inscribe a personal message. While you wait for it to arrive you'll also get a unique London Recruits digital still to download and keep alongside an expression of our thanks on social media. Free shipping in the EU. £10 for the rest of the world.

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    5 backers
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    Pledge £50 or more About US$ 66

    Pair of tickets to a West End screening. Join us in London for the red carpet treatment at a special cast, crew and friends screening. We can't wait to see you there and in the meantime we'll keep you uptodate with regular emails about the project.

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    50 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £75 or more About $99

    The package! A signed and strictly limited edition A2 poster of the film alongside your choice of blu ray or DVD. You'll also receive a set of beautiful London Recruits postcards and our sincere personal thanks on social media.

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    Pledge £100 or more About $132

    Your name in lights. Well almost. You'll receive a special thanks in the credit roller of the film; wherever the film is played, from TV to cinema you'll be with us. Plus the option of joining us at our West End screening or receiving a copy of the film (DVD or blu ray).

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    Pledge £200 or more About US$ 263

    This exclusive package includes two nights bed and breakfast at the famous Druidstone Hotel, west Wales, a South African feast meal from their award winning kitchen and a special screening of London Recruits with Q&A. For those that know this place we need say nothing more! For those that don’t, this is a chance to have a weekend to remember. Many who came across this place by chance have ended up moving to west Wales, for others it is a vital annual pilgrimage. Strictly limited places, this is a chance to secure an unforgettable weekend and to help tell an important story. See you there!

    £200 single or £375 for two (scroll down for £375 option)

    Delivery 25/26 Nov 2016

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    Pledge £250 or more About $330

    Special friends. Thank you for your amazing pledge. We'll send you everything listed above and invite you for supper and drinks with the production team and some of the London Recruits after a private screening.

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    Pledge £375 or more About US$ 496

    This exclusive package includes two nights bed and breakfast at the famous Druidstone Hotel, west Wales, a South African feast meal from their award winning kitchen and a special screening of London Recruits with Q&A. For those that know this place we need say nothing more! For those that don’t, this is a chance to have a weekend to remember. Many who came across this place by chance have ended up moving to west Wales, for others it is a vital annual pilgrimage. Strictly limited places, this is a chance to secure an unforgettable weekend and to help tell an important story. See you there!

    £200 single or £375 for two (scroll up for £200 option)

    Delivery 25/26 Nov 2016

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    Limited 0 backers
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    Pledge £500 or more About US$ 661

    The Mini Screener! For audiences of under 80 people. We will put on a special screening for your group, available on mutually agreeable dates. After the film, you'll get a chance to enjoy first hand accounts from some of the original recruits in a Q&A discussion which members of the film production will help host. Perfect for campaigners, activist & student groups, film societies and Trade Unions. We will provide everything bar the venue and can lend a hand with the logistics for the screening. Available anywhere on the mainland UK.

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About US$ 1,321

    All of the above, our eternal respect and gratitude and an invitation to dinner with Ronnie Kasrils. Available on mutually agreeable dates in London or South Africa. Travel not included but accommodation, food, drinks and good conversation guaranteed.

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About US$ 1,321

    The Grand Screener! For groups of 100+. We will put on a special screening for your group, available on mutually agreeable dates. After the film, you'll get a chance to enjoy first hand accounts from some of the original recruits in a Q&A discussion which members of the film production will help host. Perfect for campaigners, activist & student groups, film societies and Trade Unions. We will provide everything bar the venue and can lend a hand with the logistics for the screening. Available anywhere on the mainland UK.

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    2 backers
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    Pledge £2,000 or more About $2,643

    The Silver Standard. Your opportunity to enjoy this adventure as an Associate Producer of the project. You'll receive everything thus far along with a top end credit. Strictly limited, a unique opportunity to be forever associated with this remarkable film.

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    Pledge £5,000 or more About $6,607

    The Gold Standard. Your chance to join us on our adventure as an Executive Producer. You'll receive all the above plus the option of a credit on the opening film titles, our imdb page and all promotional material. Thanks to your generosity you will have made a major contribution to getting this film off the ground and be forever a part of the project.

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Funding period

- (27 days)