As Plot For Peace would have it, and which Mandela later recognised him for, the 'mysterious Frenchman' Jean-Yves Ollivier is the man that helped bring about the release of Nelson Mandela and ultimately the end of apartheid in South Africa. A businessman with no political ties or leanings, Ollivier figured that since he didn't have a family he best put his money to good use.
aving grown up in colonial Algeria, Ollivier experienced first-hand what it's like when the old world is on the cusp of collapse, witnessing three million people leaving newly independent Algeria in under three months. So when he arrived in South Africa in 1981 he knew the writing was on the wall, despite the white population being either completely oblivious ("living on a different planet") or simply ignorant of the growing unrest.
llivier set about opening channels of dialogue between not only the black and white communities, but also with the surrounding countries which had been pulled into the struggle. Ollivier's dream was to bring about the destruction of apartheid, yet somehow keep both communities intact. But, with mistrust on all sides and communist Cuba staking a claim in the oilfields in nearby Angola, making the Americans uneasy and hastening their involvement, Ollivier's attempts to Bismarck the region into peace is always moments away from total collapse.
lot For Peace leans heavily on the analogy of Ollivier's love for solitaire, a game he likes because it makes order out of chaos. Cutting from his game in his quiet den to the news footage of police brutality in Soweto, as apartheid-supporters violently restore compliance in the black community after mini revolts, the clumsy parallel is overused and only slows things down when the archive footage does a wonderful job of pushing things forward.
irectors Carlos Agullo and Mandy Jacobson put interesting people – Pik Botha (South African Minister for Foreign Affairs), US Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker and kidnapped South African special forces Captain du Toit among them - on screen who have no qualms confessing the political chicanery going on behind the scenes. With driving music pushing the events on through the ten years depicted here, Plot For Peace is a sometimes dizzying amount of information to take on board but it's never dull.