A weekly update of film releases

* BOPHA! - Morgan Freeman makes his directorial debut with this socially conscious drama; unfortunately, the excellent actor does not himself play an on-screen role. Set in South Africa around 1980, the story centers on a black police officer whose personal and professional life is thrown into confusion when his son takes an aggressive position against the apartheid laws that the father enforces as an everyday part of his job. The movie has an important subject and many good intentions, but its screenplay is regrettably stiff and stilted, and Danny Glover gives a surprisingly wooden performance. Alfre Woodard has some strong moments as the protagonist's wife, though, and Malcolm McDowell makes a sharply focused villain. Brian Bird and John Wierick wrote the screenplay, based on a play by Percy Mtwa. The cinematography is by David Watkin. (Rated PG-13)

* ON THE BRIDGE - Veteran filmmaker Frank Perry, whose movies range from ``David and Lisa'' to ``Mommie Dearest,'' is the director and hero of this documentary about his struggle with a grave illness. It is a deliberately upbeat and life-affirming movie despite its unhappy subject, but it reveals more about Perry's determination to retain his high spirits than about specific insights.(Not rated)

SAMBA TRAORE - Years after participating in a fatal robbery attempt and then evading capture, a West African man returns home and enters a complex, sometimes-puzzling new relationship with his neighbors. As directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo, who has brought the nation of Burkina Faso to a leading position in African cinema, the story has moments of considerable human and visual appeal. As compared with the filmmaker's other works, however, it doesn't resonate as strongly as the exquisite ``Tilai'' or the popular ``Yaaba.'' (Not rated)

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