Living in the Rainbow is a 2011 American drama film directed by Javier Leonardi. The film is based on and around a South African teenager who, with his family, has been caught in the middle of a brutal civil war tearing through the country. The largest part of the film mainly takes place in a government camp, based out of a pre-war school. Living in the Rainbow premiered on 1 September 2011 in the Allied States, with the world wide release occurring on 8 September. The movie received mainly positive ratings from critics. "Living in the Rainbow" is derived from South Africa's nickname being "the Rainbow Nation" because of its racial diversity.
Tensions between the white Afrikaners and black people in South Africa have led to the county being on the verge of collapse. Newly elected President of South Africa Julius Malema, who has been a prominent figure in the county for raising racial tensions by inciting his followers and encouraging them by words, has started to secretly plot a genocide against the less than 3 million white Afrikaners living in the county.
The film officially starts with Kyle van der Westhuizen, a liberal Afrikaner teenager from the country's capital, Pretoria. Kyle had just finished a day at school, and is seen saying goodbye to his friends - black kids included. Minutes after Kyle arrives home, the power goes out, however, South Africa having a long history of power-outages, Kyle disregards it and goes on with his routine. Later, Kyle starts to notice that all is not right. He first finds out from his mother that the phone lines are dead, and that it shouldn't be, as they don't work on electricity.
The family denounces these inconsistencies as coincidences - but before too long, they start hearing increasing activity outside. Kyle runs out and notices that several civilian buses, escorted by military and police, have started rounding up and loading people in the neighborhood. When it's the Van Der Westhuizens' turn, no soldier gives in to their questions as to what is going on.
The buses depart in a large convoy, filled with panicking people and non-compliant soldiers. The convoy enters a rear entrance at O.R. Tambo International Airport and joins a very large crowd of other waiting people, who have been dropped off by buses. A black South African Army Captain starts speaking via megaphone to the confused people, announcing to them that a bomb has destroyed a large part of the Union Buildings, and killed the President. The Captain, who has identified himself as Terrence Nuru, further mentions that the majority of the black population are blaming the small white rebel groups, however, these groups blame the black people for attempting to start the genocide. Nuru, fearing for the lives of especially the Afrikaners, gives everyone the option to board a airplane designated for Cape Town, in the Western Cape, where the ruling Democratic Alliance has started the secession of the province from South Africa.
Nuru however says that there is limited space, and that the elderly and children will take priority. After the plane is filled, there is still a very large group left - the Van Der Westhuizen family included. Nuru tells them that they need to re-board the buses, and that they will be taken to a secure location. Kyle and his family return to the buses and are taken to a nearby high school, which is already being secured by Nuru's detachment. The Van Der Westhuizens join of group of over 2000 others, from many ethnic groups in the school grounds. Nuru announces via a reestablished intercom system that him helping the people, especially the Afrikaners, are against his orders, however, he won't allow his men or himself to sit and watch as genocide occurs around them. He says that because of the aforementioned, he needs to continue his mission to avoid suspicion from his superiors. Nuru tells the new inhabitants that he can only leave a small amount of troops behind to act as security for the group, and that he and his men need to go back into the city to continue the fighting against the Afrikaners.
It has become apparent that the government is assisting in the genocide against the Afrikaners, and that some military officers, like Nuru, have secretly defected. Meanwhile, as time passes, United Nations supply drops keep the group from starving, as Nuru's resupply convoys bring too little food for everyone. Some American immigration agents from the Northern Coalition and the Allied States have also arrived at the school to help some of the group find refuge in America.
The group, in the few weeks Kyle and his family have been living there, has come under frequent attacks from genocidal black groups. However, the group soon starts to suspect the white rebel groups of starting the war, and most have decided to remain neutral. As time passes, some members of the group are airlifted out of the school grounds by Allied States and Coalition aircrews, however the Van Der Westhuizens haven't been approached by any immigration agents.
On one of Nuru's returns to the grounds, Kyle approaches him and begs him to relocate the group to a safer area, as the situation in the school grounds is dire. Nuru agrees that it could go better, and that he will see what he can do, as some of his superiors have also defected from the senseless killings. Nuru tells Kyle that the Western Cape has seceded from South Africa, and that the province is their best shot at escaping the killings.
Several days later, three helicopters arrive in the school grounds, and Nuru gets out of one of them. He announces via intercom that a large group of black militants are approaching the school, and that they need to evacuate as soon as possible. After a few minutes, all remaining 50~ people board the helicopters and leave the grounds just in time, as technicals breach the front gate.
The helicopters fly for close to two hours before four Rooivalk attack helicopters join their wing. The Rooivalks announce to the lead helicopter pilot that they are with the Air Force of Good Hope. The camera moves out of the helicopter to focus on Cape Town as they approach. It is shown that the Democratic Alliance successfully seceded the Western Cape from South Africa, and have named the country the Republic of Good Hope, with Helen Zille as their President. The focus goes back to the helicopters as they land safely at Cape Town International Airport and unload their passengers. The expressions on their faces after meeting with Good Hope military officials suggests that they were now safe.
- Daniel Radcliffe as Kyle van der Westhuizen
- LeVar Burton as Captain Terrence Nuru
- Mel Gibson as Charlie van der Westhuizen
- Julia Roberts as Bianca van der Westhuizen
- Forest Whitaker as President Julius Malema
- Judi Dench as President Helen Zille
Living in the Rainbow received generally positive ratings from American critics, however, several South African critics have claimed the movie highlights the county in a negative light, and further drives people to racial hate. Director Javier Leonardi has commented that the movie was aimed at emphasizing that stereotyping people from a certain race in wrong, and that there is good in bad in everyone.