About the Film

Professor Sidney Bloch, determined to confront his guilt

for colluding with Apartheid, returns to South Africa

with his teenage son.

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SYNOPSIS

What’s the price of being a bystander? Sidney Bloch is an internationally recognized professor of psychiatry, ethicist, loving father, singer and author of books on mental health. He is also a man with a troubled conscience. In this film, Sid returns to South Africa for his medical school reunion, determined to resolve the guilt that has troubled him for forty years. He’s accompanied by his teenage son, Aaron who turns out to be his harshest critic.

Growing up in Apartheid South Africa, Sid had benefited as a ‘White’, contributed negligibly to the struggle against racism and then left for Israel the day after his medical graduation. A sense of guilt and shame accompanied him throughout his later move to Australia.

Sid abhorred the Apartheid system but did almost nothing to oppose it. So how does a man who lost fourteen relatives in the Holocaust become complicit with a racist system? In 1964, twelve of the one hundred medical graduates in his class were classified ‘Non-White’ and were subject to a myriad restrictions – blacks couldn’t examine white patients, they couldn’t attend post-mortems on white bodies, they couldn’t socialize equally and their prospects were restricted. Sid and his white colleagues barely registered this reality.

Returning to Cape Town to share his past with his son, Aaron, Sid wants to confront his lack of courage during the Apartheid years. In his quest to understand the past, Sid seeks out victims of Apartheid, former colleagues who stayed to make a difference and political activists like Judge Albie Sachs, measuring his own stand against theirs. How do they regard him now? Could he have acted differently? What were his choices? Aaron critically observes his father’s explorations, both supporting and provoking him to move on and at least, forgive himself.

Redemption comes from an unlikely source when Sid and Aaron meet a former prisoner of the Apartheid regime on notorious Robben Island. In Nelson Mandela’s former cell, Sid and Aaron are given a symbolic new start, their key to a new future.

The film explores how easy it is to accept injustice and compromise one’s morals. Though it’s easy for any good person to become a bystander, it’s not so easy to live with the consequences.

Wrong Side of the Bus is the story of a journey to forgiveness.

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