9 September 2013
The world premiere of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the big-screen dramatisation of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, was followed by an eight-minute standing ovation from a visibly moved audience at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday.
Before the screening, the stars of the film – Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Riaad Moosa, Terry Pheto, Deon Lotz and Lindiwe Matshikiza – surprised throngs of fans when they stopped to pose for pictures with them before taking to the red carpet.
Directed by Justin Chadwick and produced by Anant Singh, the epic film spans Mandela’s extraordinary life, from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
Three actors play Mandela in the film: Siza Pini plays the eight-year-old Mandela, Atandwa Kani plays him at 16, and Idris Elba plays the remaining years.
Elba was praised by critics in the film’s first reviews on Sunday, with The Hollywood Reporter finding him “equal to the task” of filling the shoes of “the man most instrumental in ending institutionalized oppression in South Africa”, and Variety – while taking issue with the film’s grand narrative style – declaring: “Idris Elba gives a towering performance, a Mandela for the ages.”
Long Walk to Freedom will have its South African premier at Maponya Mall in Soweto in November, following which it will be publicly released at Nu Metro, Ster-Kinekor and independent cinemas throughout the country on 28 November.
Brand South Africa, the country’s official marketing agency, congratulated producer Anant Singh on Saturday’s world premiere.
“The production of this film that celebrates the life of our national icon is indeed timely, especially as South Africans will celebrate 20 years of democracy in 2014,” Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola said in a statement on Sunday.
“The name of Tata Nelson Mandela is synonymous with our freedom and liberation. As South Africans, we can best honour the legacy of Tata Madiba by playing our part to ensure our democracy is enduring.”