President Barack Obama recently announced that Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the highly anticipated biopic of former South African President headed by British director Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, The First Grader), will have an exclusive showing at the screening room of the White House Building on November 7th.
Produced by the Weinstein Company and starring Idris Elba (Prometheus, Pacific Rim) and Naomie Harris (Skyfall, 28 Days Later…), the film is based on Mandela’s autobiography published in 1994. It chronicles the key moments in the life of the former president of South Africa, highlighting his contentious political engagements, his many years in prison, as well as his eventual release and rise to presidency. Though critics have cited mixed reviews of the film, most agree that Chadwick does well to shed light on the highly significant historical figure as symbol for civil and racial progressivism and equality, who brought much-needed change during a time of political tumult in the country.
In addition to a number of key figures of the US government, Mandela’s daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, as well as Harris and Elba, will attend the screening. Harvey Weinstein, in commenting on the event, claims, “Knowing what a strong relationship Obama has with President Mandela, it’s an honor for this film to be shown at the White House.”
The exclusive screening and associated publicity surrounding it comes at a time when the controversial topic of racial injustice appears to be at the forefront of demand amongst the American moviegoing public. The film industry hasn’t been reluctant to capitalize on the fascination with this historically controversial issue, with the production of films such as Django Unchained, Lee Daniel’s The Butler, and the recently released 12 Years a Slave. In fact, the History Network has just reportedly acquired the rights to produce a remake of the wildly popular 1970s miniseries, Roots.
Mandela will branch out from the White House to hit US theaters on November 29th, January 3rd in Britain.