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Dear Mandela will be shown across SA

Dear Mandela will be shown across SA

Sharlene Versfeld
03/12/2012 12:19:07

Fireworx Media and Amnesty International are screening the award-winning documentary Dear Mandela across South Africa this year.

It will be seen in schools, community halls, universities, churches, and informal settlements.

Dear Mandela, winner of the Best South African documentary at the 2011 Durban International Film Festival, was written, directed and produced by Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza, follows the journey of three friends living in the Kennedy Road settlement, a Durban shantytown, who refuse to be moved when the South African government begins evicting shack dwellers from their homes.

The film documents their journey to South Africa’s highest court as they invoke Nelson Mandela’s example and become leaders in an inspiring social movement. Mazwi, an enlightened schoolboy, Zama, an AIDS orphan and Mnikelo, a mischievous shopkeeper, discover that the new ‘Slums Act’ violates the rights enshrined in the country’s constitution. By turns inspiring, devastating and funny, Dear Mandela offers a fresh perspective on the youth’s role in a South Africa coming of age.

“Filmmakers Kell and Nizza sensitively capture how everyday life in an informal settlement intersects with the threat of eradication,” says Marie Huchzermeyer an academic and public intellectual at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand. “The film touches us with the doubts, fears, reflection and courage of members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dwellers movement, in Durban in their resolve to defend a new democracy against its custodians’ resort to apartheid era legislation against informal settlements. In the depth of the backlash that the Kennedy Road community endured, this documentary leaves us with questions that few have dared to ask about the new South Africa.”

The film was described by the Durban International Film Festival judges as “a movie about courage, … beautifully shot, socially relevant and still manages to offer humour as it reveals a growing grassroots political literacy in South Africa’s informal settlements.”

“Dear Mandela is a colour-saturated and vivid story of young people organising themselves into a protest movement against forced evictions, relocations and their impoverished conditions,” says Hlonipha Makoena, author of Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual.

“In the year that the African National Congress celebrates its 100th anniversary, the name of Nelson Mandela will be invoked many times to affirm and reaffirm the righteousness and timeliness of South Africa’s liberation from an oppressive apartheid system. The film is a different kind of invocation – it does not seek to merely remind the audience of the end of apartheid and the sacrifices that were made to bring that about. It is a reminder that the end of apartheid was also the beginning of promises: starting with Mandela’s “never again” and culminating in the “better life for all” message of recent elections, South Africa’s poor have been promised a place in the new South Africa and it is time to deliver. Dear Mandela is the best kind of expression of what these promises mean to a young generation, who were probably too young to vote in the first election of 1994, but are old enough to know how to read the Constitution and the rights enshrined in it. Dear Mandela is their cri de coeur and manifesto. For anyone wanting to understand how the voiceless and powerless make their demands known, Dear Mandela is a must.”

The film has garnered great international interest and has been screened at the Camden International Film Festival, which is recognized as one of the top 25 documentary film festivals in the world. It has also been selected for the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague (8, 9, 11 March), and the Movies that Matter Film Festival in The Hague (26, 27, 28 March).

The launch of the year-long screening season in South Africa will be hosted by the Amandla Forum and the Department of Sociology (WITS) on Monday, March 19 at 6pm at Senate House, Basement 2 Lecture Theatre (SHB2), East Campus, University of the Witwatersrand, Jorrisen Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg . (Parking is available at Yale Road or in the Wits Theatre Parking Garage, entrance on Jorrisen Street, Bramfontein. Take the lift/stairs to floor B2). This is open to the public.

There is a screening of the film in honour of Human Rights Day and Amnesty International at 50 on Friday March 23 at 17:00 for 17:30 at the Steve Biko Lecture Theatre, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, UKZN, 719 Umbilo Road. Entry is R20. For more info contact

On 26 March, the film will begin broadcasting on Mzansi Magic, DSTV, broadcasting to 50 African countries over 18 months.

For more information about screenings and scheduling across South Africa go to


Issued on behalf of Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza by:
Sharlene Versfeld
Versfeld & Associates
083 326 3235

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