*On Monday, November 18, 2013, Shared Interest, a New York-based nonprofit social investment fund working in southern Africa, hosted a benefit VIP reception and screening of The Weinstein Company’s powerful film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom based on the extraordinary life of South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square Theatre in New York City.The benefit screening was held in collaboration with South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture and attended by Former South African Ambassador Barbara Masekela and South Africa Consul General George Monyemangene.The biopic film chronicles Mandela’s humble early life in rural South Africa to become the country’s first democratically-elected president through his transformational leadership to rebuild a nation.
Acclaimed actor Idris Elba stars as Nelson Mandela with Naomie Harris playing the role of his wife Winnie Mandela, with whom he shared a passionate and troubled love affair that endured for decades. Directed by Justin Chadwick, the film is produced by Anant Singh, a South African film producer of some of the most powerful anti-apartheid films.
“We are deeply honored to host an exclusive New York City benefit screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” said Donna Katzin, executive director of Shared Interest. “Since the founding of Shared Interest in 1994, former South African President Nelson Mandela has been a strong supporter of our work to create social and economic change by bridging the gap between South African banks and South Africa’s most marginalized and impoverished communities.”
Prior to the much anticipated screening, excitement mounted as over 300 guests roamed the VIP reception noshing savory South African food from Brooklyn’s Madiba Restaurant and sipping fine wines from Wines of South Africa and wishing the ailing Mandela, who remains in a stable but critical condition, a speedy recovery.
Danny Schechter, freedom fighter, award-winning journalist and filmmaker of a behind-the-scenes documentary on “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” autographed his newly-released companion book, “Madiba A-Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela,” on the documentary and Mandela’s life, for guests.
Proceeds from the screening will support Shared Interest’s mission to mobilize resources for Southern Africa’s economically disenfranchised communities to sustain themselves and build equitable nations. “This epic film is a reminder of how far South Africa has come since the apartheid era, and the continuing long walk before us to make Madiba’s vision of social and economic transformation a daily reality for all South Africans,” added Katzin.
Special guests attending the screening included Malik Yoba, actor on NBC’s “Revolution;” Troi Zee, actress of “1982” movie; Sahr Ngaujah of Tony-winning Broadway musical “Fela!;” Aaron Ross of the New York Giants; Sanya Richards-Ross, four-time Olympian track star and TV personality; and Célia Faussart and Hélène Faussart of the Grammy-Nominated Les Nubians.
*President Barack Obama weighs in on “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” — If you weigh the significance of a film by its supporters — even before it hits the big screen — then the soon to be released Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is the elephant in the room – and that’s pretty heavy! It’s not too many films that can boast having played the White House like the biopic on South African President Nelson Mandela, an international icon and one of the world’s most revered leaders.
President Barack Obama and Mandela enjoy a close relationship with the president and his family having visited Robben Island jail — the facility where Mandela was imprisoned for nearly two decades – on a recent South Africa visit June 30, 2013.
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is based on Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming president and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society. Directed by Justin Chadwick, the film had its world premiere earlier this year at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and premiered to wild acclaim at a gala screening in Johannesburg, South Africa on November 3, 2013.
On November 7, 2013, President Obama hosted a special screening at the White House of The Weinstein Company’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom with stars Idris Elba (Nelson Mandela) and actress Naomie Harris (Winnie Mandela) in attendance, along with Nelson Mandela’s daughters Zindzi Mandela and Zenani Mandela.
“Idris Elba brings my father’s essence to life with an exceptional performance as Nelson Mandela. I loved the film, especially how it portrays my father’s life and his global impact from the values of a small village boy through to an international leader,” said Zindzi Mandela. “The film is amazing and Naomie Harris’ performance is beautiful,” added Mandela’s former wife Winnie Mandela.
“Knowing what a strong relationship President Obama has with President Mandela, it’s an honor for this film to be shown at the White House,” added noted TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein.
The high-profile film had such a strong and favorable reaction following the White House screening that TWC organized another private showing hosted by Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, General Colin Powell and Senator John McCain at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater, Washington, DC on Wednesday, November 20, 2013. The screening was sponsored by American Express, South African Airways and The Washington Post
In addition to Harvey Weinstein, Gen. Colin Powell, Sec. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain, others attending the film included Naomie Harris, Justin Chadwick, Tom Schick-Sponsor AMEX, event emcee Paul Begala, Steve Clemons, editor of The Atlantic, U.S. Representatives Chaka Fattah and Barbara Lee, Amb. Mula Mula, Ambassador of Tanzania, NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and many more.
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom will have its theatrical release on Friday, November 29, 2013.
New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets. Contact her via: [email protected]