Global recognition for Mandela’s movie

20 December 2012

The recently released film Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom continues to receive international recognition, with nominations rolling in after the revered former president’s death on 5 December.

The latest accolades include two nominations from the 34th London Critics Circle Film awards, production company Videovision Entertainment said in a statement on Wednesday. Naomie Harris received a nomination for supporting actress of the year as well as British actress of the year for her role as Winnie Mandela.

“We congratulate Naomie on receiving these two nominations from the UK’s foremost organisation of film critics. This is really a massive achievement, well-deserved and very exciting,” said Anat Singh, the film’s producer.

The London Critics Circle Film Awards are voted for by the UK’s prestigious critical organisation, which has 140 members who between them see every one of the hundreds of films released in the UK each year. The winners will be announced on 2 February 2014.

Golden Globes trio

It took 16 years for Singh to bring this story about the life of one of the world’s greatest humanitarians in history to the big screen – and his efforts are certainly paying off.

The film has also received three Golden Globe nominations, announced in Hollywood in the US on 13 December. Idris Elba has been nominated as best actor in a motion picture drama for his role as Nelson Mandela; Alex Heffes received the nomination for best original score; and U2 has been nominated for the best original song. Ordinary Love was written especially for the film.

Singh said this was the first time a South African film had received three Golden Globe nominations. The 2014 Golden Globes will take place on 12 January 2014.

In its opening weekend, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom earned R4,4- million, outgrossing Leon Schuster’s Schuks! Your Country Needs You, which earned R3,6-million.

Box office records

Videovision said on its website that the Mandela film had also outgrossed the opening weekend box office of some of the biggest releases this year, including Hunger Games – Catching Fire, World War Z, The Wolverine and Hangover 3.

Director Justin Chadwick says in his director’s satement that he faced a huge challenge in making a movie not just about one of the most revered statesmen of the 20th century, but also an international icon and a most-loved individual.

“When Anant first talked to me about the project, he stressed that the centre of the story was the human narrative; the cost to the man, the cost to the family, and to his relationship with Winnie,” Chadwick writes.

“Yes, we could remember those television images and the iconic moments when he was released from prison, but I wanted to take the camera behind the closed doors right before that moment, and his personal interaction with his daughters, and our screenwriter, William Nicholson, embraced that.”

Honest relationships

The director says the Singh’s input was very informative. “Over the extensive period in which he put this film together, he formed deep and honest relationships with people who were involved in the anti-apartheid struggle. Likewise, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has done a formidable job in cataloging that period of history and allowed me open access to it.”

Singh says on the Mandela Movie website that the casting for the movie involved careful consideration as to who would best portray these world famous and powerful figures.

“When Idris came up in our discussions, he was at a place in his career where this role was perfect for him. I thought his performance was so powerful in the Rwandan genocide movie, Sometimes in April, and it is one of the reasons that he’s doing this film. But equally he has a stature and a presence like Madiba.”

Madiba magic

“At the end of the day it’s about performance, and it’s about getting that ‘Madiba magic’, which Idris has got – that charisma and that charm that we all know of Madiba. There was no one else we felt who could actually pull that off.”

To bring to life a formidable and multifarious woman who is both loved and hated, the filmmakers turned to Naomie Harris, who delivered a commanding performance in The First Grader.

“When I asked Naomie to think about playing Winnie Mandela, she was blown away,” Singh said.

South African cast

South Africa’s talented actors were cast in the pivotal roles of Mandela’s comrades and co-prisoners on Robben Island.

Tony Kgoroge – who also starred in a number of international films such as Hotel Rwanda and also The First Grader – stepped into the shoes of Walter Sisulu.

Comedian and qualified doctor, Riaad Moosa plays Madiba’s close friend Ahmed Kathrada; Govan Mbeki (father of former president Thabo Mbeki) is played by Fana Mokoena; while Raymond Mhlaba is played by the acclaimed praise poet Zolani Mkiva. Simo Magwaza and Thapelo Mokoena play Andrew Mlangeni and Elias Motsoaledi, respectively.

“Whenever I met Sisulu, Kathrada and Madiba together, I experienced a spirit and a camaraderie that I felt also existed with the guys that we put together for this film, said Singh. “This is important, as this energy ultimately comes out on screen.”

SAinfo reporter and Mandela Movie