Peter Davis

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Interview Date(s): 
30 Aug 2007
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Peter Davis

Film producer and director Peter Davis became deeply involved in the anti-apartheid movement. He founded Villon Films in 1970. Davis has written, produced, and directed more than 70 documentaries. His work has been shown on major television networks including CBC, CTV, BBC, CBS, NBC, Swedish Television, German Television, and NHK Japan.

Davis was born and raised in England. He completed his masters studies at Oxford University before emigrating to Sweden and then North America. His early career included positions as scriptwriter for the National Film Board of Canada; director-cameraman for BBC, CBC, Swedish TV, Danish TV, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and WNET; as well as producer for Swedish TV, London’s Rediffusion Television, BBC, CBS, CBC, CTV, Polytel (West Germany), WNET, the United Nations, UNICEF, and C.A.R.E.

The Peter Davis Collection at Indiana University includes not only films, but also corresponding outtakes, photographs, audio cassettes, and manuscripts. The South African material spans the period of the most intensive struggle for human rights in that country, and also includes historical footage dating from the beginning of the century. Among the documentaries held there are Remember Mandela!, In Darkest Hollywood, White Laagerand Generations of Resistance. Both Peter Davis and Villon Films have won numerous awards, including: In Darkest Hollywood, First Prize, Big Muddy Film Festival, 1994; Winnie Mandela: Under Apartheid, Blue Ribbon, American Film Festival, 1986; Urkunde, InternationalenDemokratischen Frauenfoderation, 1986; League of Mediterranean Women’s plaque, 1987; and Side by Side, Women against AIDS in Zimbabwe, Jury Award, WHO, 1995. His films include South Africa: the White Laager (1977), a history of Afrikaner nationalism; Generations of Resistance (1980), an account of African rebellion against white rule to the student uprising of 1976; The Selling of the Pentagon (1971); Winnie Mandela and Remember Mandela(1988); and In Darkest Hollywood: Cinema and Apartheid (1994). Davis also wrote a major book, In Darkest Hollywood: Exploring the Jungles of Cinema's South Africa (Athens : Ohio University Press, 1996). He continues to produce and distribute African and socio-political documentary and fiction films from Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada. He visited Michigan State Uiversity and gave illustrated lectures on his works.