Indian-origin filmmaker re-launches Mandela documentary

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Indian-origin filmmaker re-launches Mandela documentary

Wednesday, 06 December 2023 | PTI | johannesburg

Internationally-renowned South African filmmaker of Indian origin, Anant Singh, has re-released on an OTT platform his special documentary on the life of the late Nelson Mandela as the country marked his 10th death anniversary on Tuesday.

After serving 27 years in prison under the minority white apartheid government, the globally celebrated leader became President of South Africa in 1994. Mandela died on December 5, 2013. Singh’s documentary feature ‘Viva Madiba: A Hero for All Seasons’ will be seen globally on Netflix and will be available to audiences of the streaming service throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands for the first time.

Initially produced as a tribute to Mandela, the documentary is a celebration of Mandela’s epic life and his status as an international icon. The film takes one on a journey behind the headlines and away from the public eye and looks at Madiba through different lenses - as a loyal friend, a faithful comrade, a trusted confidant, a respected mentor, and a man who has touched and transformed countless lives globally.

Mandela’s life of struggle, humanity, destiny, and greatness is recalled and celebrated by those who knew him best and who worked with him and “the film takes us beyond the political and into the personal realm and features exclusive interviews with politicians, close friends and comrades,” Singh said. These include Archbishop Desmond Tutu; former ANC leader Oliver Tambo; George Bizos, the lawyer who defended Mandela and his co-accused at the infamous Rivonia Trial that sent them to prison; long-time fellow prisoner and confidant Ahmed Kathrada, and his former jailer, Christo Brand. Also featured in the documentary is current President Cyril Ramaphosa, the country’s fourth after Mandela stepped down following just one term in office.

Singh recalled how he had been at the Royal Premiere of his movie ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ in London when he received news of 95-year-old Mandela’s passing after a long illness. Just 15 minutes before the end of the film ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’, based on the autobiography of the same name, Singh got the news that Mandela had died. What was expected to be a standing ovation for Singh and the cast of the film from the celebrity audience, including Prince William and his wife Kate, turned into shocked disbelief as he waited for the end of the film to give the audience the tragic news and called for a minute’s silence to honour the global icon.

“Even though we had all expected it to happen one day, it was such a shock to hear it while sitting in the theatre watching the movie exactly as it happened,” he said. A planned after-party was also cancelled as cast members left in tears. Singh had spent almost two decades planning the multi-million-rand film, which won accolades all over the world.

Earlier he explained how he had told Mandela after first reading the manuscript for the book that it had to be made into a film. “It is amazing how quickly 10 years have passed – it feels like it was yesterday that we got the dreaded news of Madiba’s passing,” Singh said, referring to Mandela’s clan name. “Whilst the world is poorer without Nelson Mandela, despite his passing 10 years ago, the gravitas of Madiba is still respected and acknowledged not only in South Africa but around the world,” Singh concluded.

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