The time is the late ’80s, a crucial period in the history of South Africa. President P.W. Botha is hanging on to power by a thread as the African National Congress (ANC) takes up arms against apartheid and the country tumbles toward insurrection. A British mining concern is convinced that their interests would be better served in a stable South Africa and they quietly dispatch Michael Young, their head of public affairs, to open an unofficial dialogue between the bitter rivals. Assembling a reluctant yet brilliant team to pave the way to reconciliation by confronting obstacles that initially seem insurmountable, Young places his trust in ANC leader Thabo Mbeki and Afrikaner philosophy professor Willie Esterhuyse. It is their empathy that will ultimately serve as the catalyst for change by proving more powerful than the terrorist bombs that threaten to disrupt the peaceful dialogue.
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Alma’s family has been producing quality olive oil in the Baix Maestrat area of Spain’s Castellón for generations. Yet changing pressures in the industry have made their traditional practices economically untenable, and the family is now in the mass-production poultry business. Alma’s grandfather has not spoken in years. Sadness envelopes him, and he no longer wants to eat. His sons—Alma’s father and uncle—are impatient with him, but Alma understands her grandfather. She realizes he has been grieving for a thousand-year-old olive tree that the family has uprooted and sold to pay some debts. (A sadly common reality in Castellón at present.) Unable to bear the idea that her grandfather could die without seeing this terrible wrong corrected, Alma undertakes a quixotic mission to locate the tree and return it to the family orchard, so that her grandfather may have peace in his final days.