US audience award for Mandela movie

4 October 2013

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the big-screen dramatisation of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, won the Audience Favourite Feature award at the Aspen Filmfest in the United States, it was announced on Wednesday night.

The film beat a number of heavyweight contenders, including The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, Nebraska and One Chance, to emerge as the most popular film at the internationally recognised festival.

Long Walk to Freedom received an eight-minute standing ovation at its world premiere at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival last month.

“Even though the Aspen Filmfest is a small festival, it is very prestigious,” producer Anant Singh said in a statement on Thursday, adding that it featured one of the line-ups of Oscar contenders in the run-up to the 2014 Academy Awards.

This included Alexander Payne’s comedy Nebraska starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte; Bill Condon’s thriller The Fifth Estate, based on WikiLeaks and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange; and John Wells’ drama August: Osage County starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

“We are delighted that Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom came out tops, especially in contention with these quality films,” Singh said.

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.

SAinfo reporter