A stunned silence

2013-12-07 00:00

THERE was silence and then emotional scenes when Durban filmmaker Anant Singh had to announce after the European premiere of his film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom in London, that the icon had died.

“I was informed of Madiba’s death when the film still had 15 minutes to run,” said Singh, speaking to Weekend Witness from London yesterday. “His daughter Zindzi Mandela was also there and I met with her and other members of the Mandela family and they said we must let it play on as ‘it is what he would have wanted’.”

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom had been selected as this year’s Royal Film Performance and the audience at the Odeon in London’s Leicester Square included Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

When the film ended, Singh, accompanied by its star Idris Elba and director Justin Chadwick, got up onto the stage to announce Mandela’s death.

“We would have been getting up for a standing ovation — in fact there was a standing ovation and I had to quieten the audience. I then made the announcement that Madiba had died. There was a silence and then people began crying. It was hugely emotional.”

Singh first contacted Mandela while he was still in prison. “I wrote him a letter and said I would like to make a film of his life.”

After Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, Singh met Mandela in person for the first time. “I met him at Fatima Meer’s house in Durban for an hour-and-a-half a week after his release.”

Thus began a friendship spanning 23 years. Singh said that as a human being there was no one better formed than Mandela in terms of thoughtfulness.

“But Madiba had so many levels of significance — his down to earth nature, his dignity, his humility. He said to me once, ‘I’m an everyman; I’m all people.’

“I have seen him so many times and in so many places and he would interact with people — whether they were a barman or a king or a queen — and treat them all as equally important.” Singh said Mandela had taken a keen interest in the film made of his life. “He would say ‘Don’t rush. I trust you.’”

When the film was completed a year ago, Singh took footage of particular scenes and production stills to show Mandela. “When he saw Idris he said: ‘Is that me?’ He still had that unique sense of humour.”

As a mark of respect, all screenings of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom were cancelled in South Africa yesterday.

Singh said the lasting impression he had of Mandela was his magnanimity, “and the reach of who he is — it’s global.

“I’ve been on this journey for so many years and there is no one quite like him. The outpouring of love and sorrow in the weeks to come will be unprecedented.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.