Promotional Trailer


When Archbishop Desmond Tutu invited me to film his life and work, I thought I was going to be making a film about justice. But he had a different intention: to persuade the world to forgive the unforgivable.

- Karen Hayes, Filmmaker


THE FOOLISHNESS OF GOD: A Forgiveness Journey with Desmond Tutu takes viewers on a dramatic global journey revealing Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu’s process of promoting forgiveness. Following Tutu intimately, the filmmaker and audience are thrust into an uncomfortable world where Tutu asks that atrocities be forgiven. But as Tutu challenges traditional notions of justice, personal lives are impacted in unforeseeable ways.

Forgiveness may seem stupid in the eyes of the world, but it’s the “foolishness” of God, which is wiser than the world.
-- Desmond Tutu


Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate and the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, was an instrumental leader in the dismantling South African apartheid. His use of nonviolent tactics such as mass marches, boycotts, and sanctions helped the county avoid civil war. In 1995 President Nelson Mandela appointed Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Since then, through his work with the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and The Elders he continues to be a global force for peacemaking.

Director's Statement

I met Desmond Tutu in the 1980s on the lawn of All Saints Pasadena, the progressive church that was a sanctuary for South African activists. Later, I traveled with a group to South Africa to meet anti-apartheid leaders and make further plans to support the Movement. It was there that Archbishop Desmond invited me to film his work.

My awareness of Desmond Tutu had been as a powerful religious figure that wore elegant purple bishop’s robes while demanding justice from white-supremacist leaders. However on our first shoot in 1995, I witnessed him asking Rwandan genocide survivors to forgive their slaughterers, which perplexed and daunted me. “Where was justice?” I wanted to know.

My journey with Desmond Tutu ended up leading me, camera in tow, all over the world: from regal and Presidential locations, to remote villages and urban shantytowns where histories of pain and outrage still haunt. I interviewed perpetrators of unspeakable violence as well as survivors who exemplified dignity.

Along this journey I discovered the paradox that “the Foolishness of God” that Tutu speaks of is actually the wise act of letting go. Tutu sometimes says, “Forgiveness is the highest form of self-preservation.” I am now persuaded that it is also the pre-cursor to global preservation.



People in the Film

Desmond Tutu

Born in October 7, 1931, Desmond Mpilo Tutu was appointed as the first Black Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, one month after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The following year he was elected archbishop of Cape Town, which made him the head of the Anglican Church with a 1.6 million membership in South Africa. During apartheid he was a leader of the Mass Democratic Movement, which effected change using nonviolent strategies such as sanctions, boycotts and peaceful demonstrations. After chairing South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he co-founded the Elders: Independent Leaders Working Together for Peace and Human Rights. He has authored many books for adults and children, including, The Book of Forgiving

John Allen


John Allen was press secretary to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and led media relations for The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is the author of many books, including Tutu's authorized biography, Rabble Rouser for Peace.

Paul Erasmus


Paul Erasmus was a South African security police officer whose job it was to surveil and harass Desmond Tutu and other anti-apartheid leaders. He testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about dirty tricks and violence perpetrated by the police and received amnesty.

Dr. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela


Dr. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She is a clinical psychologist, professor and the author of the acclaimed book, A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness.

Thulani Grenville Grey

Thulani Grenville Grey

Thulani Grenville Grey was the counseling psychologist for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and was responsible for the mental health needs of both staff and testifiers. He currently serves as an HIV/AIDS educator in South Africa.

Antjie Krog


Antjie Krog is an acclaimed poet and journalist. For two years she reported on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Her 1998 memoir of that experience, Country of My Skull, was made into the feature film, In My Country.

Cynthia Ngewu

Cynthia Ngewu

Cynthia Ngewu’s son, anti-apartheid activist Christopher Piet, was murdered by South African policemen in the Guguletu Seven incident. Cynthia testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and reconciled with the police informant responsible.



Be a Partner

Sponsorship and film credit opportunities are available.

Contributions are tax-deductible via our non-profit fiscal sponsors.
You can donate online at Fractured Atlas.

If donating by check please send to:
New Vision Partners, Attn. Tutu Film
2750 E. New York Dr.
Pasadena, CA  91107

We are grateful to all who have supported the film. We hope you will join the team!

Feel free to contact us using our contact form on this website or at info.tutufilm@gmail.com


Major Funders

The Ford Foundation
Margo Groves
Corky Hale & Mike Stoller Foundation
Paul & Margaret Lacey
Edgar & Myra Hayes
Peggy Phelps
Catherine & Jim Dillavou
Susan Shaw


Joan Goldsmith & Ken Cloke
Janet Cunningham, MD
Robert Floe
Gisele Fontaine
Brenda & Bill Galloway
Margo Groves
Rev. Frances Hall Kieschnick
Northrop Diversity Fund
L.P. Perrett
Pacific Pioneer Fund
Dinah & Bill Roberts
Don Thomas, MD


Karen Alexander
Meriel Stern
Karen Baez
Ferne Hayes & Ann Bishop
Lilli Cloud
Josephine Jackson
Wilma Jakobsen
Walter Johnson
Cynthia Jones
Katherine Jones
Jim Hayes & Cathy Keig
Rick and Myrna Kidd
Victoria Pynchon


Lineage Dance
Margaret Lindgren
Carmen Morgan
Pasadena Interracial Women’s Club
Kelly Turner
Frances E. Williams Artist Grants/
Spirit of Paul Robeson Grant
Karen Wise


Bill Bailey
Patricia Barrow
Margaret Callahan
Lisa & Eric Callow
Dorothy Christ
Harry Gill

Agnes Grohs
Jennifer Hayes Silvers
Dr. Ernest Hayward
Bridget Hedison
Sally Howard
Louise Jackson

Pamela Jackson
David Korda
Russ & Hannah Kully
Meryl Marshall Daniels
Ralph & Betsy Perry
Gerry Puhara & Russ Ferrante

George & Mary Regas
Ron Zuckerman



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