With Come Back, Africa, Rogosin took the docufiction style of On the Bowery—and his concern with society’s disadvantaged and disenfranchised, as evidenced in that film—to c. 1959 Johannesburg, depicting the hidden reality of apartheid by sidestepping the local government censors he’d convinced he was shooting a carefree musical. A young Zulu newly arrived in the city, Zacharia Mgabi drifts between crap jobs, the dismal opportunities of the white world contrasted to the film’s depiction of resilient Black social life in a jubilant centerpiece party scene featuring a star-making performance by Miriam Makeba, singing two songs. (In fact the movie is something of a musical, though anything but carefree.) Unable to find a US distributor, Rogosin opened the Bleecker Street Cinema and premiered it himself, to rightly rapturous reviews.

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