On 18 July global icon and former South African president Nelson Mandela (Madiba) turns 94 years old. Film producer Anant Singh, currently in production on the only official film based on Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, together with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, has announced the production’s involvement in perpetuating the legacy of Madiba and Mandela Day.
This marks the continuation of the relationship between Singh’s Videovision Entertainment with Mandela Day, which began at the inception of the initiative with the adoption by Videovision of the Durban based NGO, Streetwise.
Long Walk To Freedom commenced principle photography in KwaZulu Natal at the end of May and is currently shooting in Cape Town Film, where after the production will move to Johannesburg, the Eastern Cape and then back to KwaZulu Natal.
Leading the list of Mandela Day support is the endowment of key sets created for the film to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. These sets will be housed in the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu and other associated heritage facilities. These realistic sets will allow the public to be transported through time and experience places that have great significance in Madiba’s history.
Among these sets are the Courtroom of the Palace Of Justice, Madiba’s Robben Island Cell, Robben Island Visitors’ Centre, and the interior of Madiba’s Orlando West home over four decades. Also created are a range of outdoor sets which include the multi-level B Section of the Robben Island Prison and the prison courtyard as well as a section of Orlando West including the iconic Vilakazi Street. All of these sets were designed by production designer Johnny Breedt and were built by a team of local artisans with intricate detail and authenticity.
The production, which filmed the iconic release of Mandela at the Drakenstein Prison (formerly Victor Verster), will also support the initiative of the prison which has teamed up with the Department of Basic Education in the Western Cape to renovate schools which are in dire need of repairs.
Singh and some actors from the film will participate in the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory container library project at the Aha Setjhaba School in Parys. SAFM’s Tsepiso Makwetla is the ambassador for the project. Through the participation of Singh and his team, a new element will be introduced into the container library project, ie. the inclusion of films that tell the history of South Africa.
Singh also announced that the 500 strong creative and technical team behind Long Walk To Freedom have also committed themselves to support the Mandela Day initiative with individual activities for the 67 minutes. This forms part of the Mandela Day Campaign with activities that go beyond Madiba’s birthday, making every day a “Mandela Day’.
Said Singh: “The team working on Long Walk To Freedom have created historically significant places and objects and we are delighted to share this with the public through the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and the Nelson Mandela Museum to ensure that our people can benefit from these creations in locations that are easily accessible. We are pleased that in addition to the film, we can further contribute to the preservation of Madiba’s amazing history and legacy.’
“We are so grateful for this gesture from Anant Singh and the cast and crew of Long Walk to Freedom,’ added Achmat Dangor, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. “This gift will ensure an added dimension to our public outreach once the repurposed and refurbished Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory opens in mid-2013,’ added Dangor.
Chairperson of the Content Committee of the Nelson Mandela Museum, Dr P Dyantyi said, “The Nelson Mandela Museum is lost for words and grateful for the donation that Mr Singh, Videovision and the film are making to the Museum. This will go a long way in ensuring that we comprehensively tell the story of President Mandela through visual artefacts. In addition, it will bring three important sites into one space in Qunu which is geographically the fourth space. What makes us more excited as the Nelson Mandela Museum is that Videovision shares the same values and vision that we hold dear – that the story of President Mandela is bigger than any individual and that it must be shared with the rest of the world using all technologies available to us.’
Long Walk To Freedom stars Idris Elba and Atandwe Kani (Mandela), Tony Kgoroge (Walter Sisulu), Riaad Moosa (Ahmed Kathrada), Zolani Mkiva (Raymond Mhlaba), Simo Magwaza (Andrew Mlangeni), Fana Mokoena (Govan Mbeki), Thapelo Mokoena (Elias Motsoaledi), Naomie Harris, Lindiwe Matshikiza and Terry Pheto.