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Monday, March 26, 2012


Set in Durban, the producers of Dear Mandela have launched a country-wide campaign aimed at highlighting human rights violation in commemoration of human rights month.

Endorsed by international human rights group Amnesty International, the film commemorated Human Rights Day at a special screening on March 23 at the Steve Biko Lecture Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The campaign, launched on March 19 at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS,) will also honour Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary.

The campaign involves year- long screenings of Dear Mandela which will run throughout 2012 until Human Rights Day 2013. Produced by Fireworx Media together with New York based Sleeping Giant Films, the film is set to screen at public venues such as schools, community halls, universities, churches, and informal settlements around the country. The producers are currently finalizing the details of an Africa wide broadcast deal

“We hope the screenings will encourage interaction and spark new relationships between members of society who might otherwise be divided by race, class or geography,” said Neil Brandt, South African co-producer of the film.

Dear Mandela explores the hopes, lives and challenges of three young people living in the informal settlements of Durban. The film was screened at the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement, as part of an initial outreach campaign funded by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). An “amazing” audience reception inspired the film’s producers to subsequently create a national campaign that would deliver the widespread message of the film.

“We truly want young people in every city, town and village to be inspired by the film, and to work towards positive social change within their communities, schools, churches and workplaces”, said Brandt.

Dear Mandela was awarded the Best South African Documentary Award at the Durban International Film Festival last year, where it also had its world premiere. Producers of the film are “thrilled” to be working alongside Amnesty International, who they believe “share the same commitment to human rights”.

The film has garnered 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 was also selected for the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague and the Movies that Matter Film Festival in The Hague (both in March 2012). It has also been nominated for 2012 Best Documentary Award at the African Movie Academy Awards set to take place in Lagos, Nigeria on April 22.

Brandt, a local filmmaker based in Johannesburg is also a Durban FilmMart past participant. Brandt’s feature film The Dream of Shahrazad was chosen as an official project at Durban FilmMart 2010, a coproduction and finance forum created through a partnership between the Durban Film Office and the Durban International Film Festival.

Brandt’s involvement in Dear Mandela is based on his desire as a filmmaker to create a “platform for energized debate and free expression”. “Every day, protesters around the country hit the streets to demand an end to broken promises, corruption and unlawful evictions. Films have a way of starting conversations, and we hope that all over the country, people of all stripes will be inspired to reach across socio-economic barriers, to come together and make South Africa the country it deserves to be,” said Brandt.

For more information on upcoming screenings visit or join the film’s Facebook page at