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2013 S&A Black Cinema Database Entry #6 - 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 11, 2013 7:21 PM
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First, the usual recap of the series (feel free to skip ahead, if you'll already read it)... As I noted in an entry towards the end of last year, 2013 should be an interesting year for black cinema (at the studio level, indie, and across the disapora). Looking down my continuously-growing list of black films scheduled for release (theatrical, TV, or home video), as well as those that will debut on the film festival circuit this year, it's quite long, and, as noted, is still growing.

In fact, I'd say that we might find ourselves in one of those rare years, when there's a fuller than usual slate of studio-backed black films, to complement the indies - an indie slate that, given what we know so far, should be strong - and foreign (to the USA) titles from Africa, Europe, South America, Canada, etc.

As I usually do at the start of every year, I take a long, hard look at everything we should look forward to for the year; but given how lengthy my list is, and the fact that it continues to grow the more research I do, I'm taking a different approach this year. 

Instead of compiling a single list into one lengthy post, I'm going to highlight each film individually, 1 per day, until I've listed them all. No worries, there won't be 365 titles; I'm still going to be somewhat selective in deciding which titles to highlight. But not too strict, so as to include as many as possible. We'll just see how it goes, and take it a day at a time, as the database is built.

#1 was Bow Wow's military thriller, Allegiance, opened (last week); #2, Marlon Wayans' found-footage horror-comedy, A Haunted House; #3, Tina Gordon Chism's We The Peeples; #4 was Chadian filmmaker Mahamat Saleh-Haroun's Grisgris; and #5 was a thriller titled Wards Island.

Entry #6 is Idris Elba's Nelson Mandela project, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which co-stars Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela.

Elba's done a pretty good job of keeping the project under-wraps, even though it's already been shot, and has been in post-production for a few months.

Not much at all has been released or unveiled - except for 1 still photo (above) that was taken from the rear of who we think are Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in character as Nelson and Winnie.

But no clips, no trailer, no real photos, whether official, or from the set. Idris, who seemingly likes teasing his followers with bits and pieces of whatever project he's working on, hasn't done that with this film - at least, nothing that we've been aware of.

Both actors haven't really talked about it - nothing in-depth anyway. 

So we've had really nothing of substance to report since the project was officially announced last spring.

Why the seemingly deliberate silence and secrecy? I wish I knew.

But I can say that it only raises anticipation for it - at least, in my case; so maybe that's the point.

I'm one of those who has had trouble picturing Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela (young and/or old), so I'm really looking forward to seeing that first trailer for the film, to see what he's done to embody the real-life (and still living) icon he's portraying.

Naomie Harris is playing Winnie Mandela, in a film the producers are calling the "the largest South African production ever mounted!"

Justin Chadwick is directing from a script based on Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - the autobiographical work written by Nelson Mandela himself, which highlights his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison.

The project will reportedly have an "epic sweep," from a script written by William Nicholson, who also penned screenplays for other epics like GladiatorShadowlands and Les Miserables.

By the way, director Chadwick and Harris have worked before, in the acclaimed 2010 drama The First Grader, about a Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter.

We'll be watching for that first trailer for 

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