Tuesday, 14 January 2014


Nelson Mandela’s life story is “simply too big, too complex and too important” to be captured by a single movie, according to one critic, but this hasn’t stopped audiences from going to see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

The movie poster in French
The film has been playing in several countries since its release shortly before Mandela’s death on Dec. 5, and most viewers have given it a positive rating, singling out the London-born actor Idris Elba for his commanding performance as the beloved South African icon who forgave his captors after 27 years in prison and who worked to unify his country.

A different set of viewers will watch the film on Jan. 24, however, when Long Walk to Freedom is screened at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Forum brings together leaders from the business, political and academic spheres to “shape global, regional and industry agendas”, but the meeting has often been criticized for being elitist and out of touch.

According to organizers, the screening of the movie is a continuation of the initiative started in 2006 by Prof. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, “to use the medium of motion pictures to highlight topical global issues”.

In a statement, Schwab said: "Everybody who sees Anant Singh's film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, is moved by the trajectory of this most outstanding personality of the past decades, who was such a great friend of the Forum. This film reminds us to incorporate the spirit of Nelson Mandela into our mission and all our activities."

Mandela addressed Davos participants in 1991, a year after he was released from prison and three years before he became South Africa’s president.

Idris Elba as Mandela
Producer Anant Singh has been invited to present the film as part of a tribute to Mandela, and he will provide “insights” to the production, which is based on Mandela's autobiography of the same name.

Singh said he hoped that the film would inspire the delegates “as Madiba did in his first address at the Annual Meeting".

The delegates this year include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, American actress Goldie Hawn, Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat and controversial French businessman Christophe de Margerie, the chairman and CEO of  oil giant Total.

Away from Davos, the biopic received a boost earlier this week when the song Ordinary Love, written by the Irish band U2, won a Golden Globe Award in the United States for Best Original Song - Motion Picture. Lead singer Bono said the win was “personal” for the band because they had written a “love song” to a man who “refused to hate”.