With Madiba's passing and the film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" release date coincidentally occuring in such short time intervals, the film adapted from his 1994 autobiography has become not just a tribute, but a timely eulogy to the first black president and anti-apartheid icon of South Africa.
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" will be officially released on Christmas in theaters worldwide. It is expected to help bring to light Mandela's extraordinary life, his legacy of forgiveness, reconciliation, and leadership towards democracy as one of the most important African figure in the 20th-21st century.
Long Walk to Freedom was directed by Justin Chadwick, written by William Nicholson, and produced by Singh. Mandela personally awarded the film rights to the book to Singh's company before 2009. Singh believes that as the film is based on Mandela's own writing, it will be the "definitive" biopic of him. In February 2012, English actor Idris Elba confirmed his role to portray Mandela. Other cast are Naomi Harris as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Tony Kgoroge as Walter Sisulu, Terry Pheto as Evelyn, and Jamie Bartlett as James Gregory.
Meanwhile, U2 had written a song specifically for the film entitled "Ordinary Love."
The film held its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2013. It premiered in South Africa on November 3, 2013 and was shown at the White House on Nov. 7, 2013. The film was released in South Africa in Nov. 28, and limited release on Nov. 29, 2013 in the United States (New York and Los Angeles).
Just before Nelson Mandela died, the film premiered in London on Dec. 5 as a Royal Film Performance, which was attended by Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, along with Mandela's daughters Zindzi and Zenani. When the news of Mandela's death broke, a spokesman with the film said the daughters requested that the film continue, though they immediately left the theater.
Then, the producer Anant Singh (alongside Idris Elba, who played Mandela in the film) took the stage during the closing credits to inform the viewers of the former South Africa president's death, and held a moment of silence.
Prince William made a brief remark on the sudden news. "I just wanted to say it's extremely sad and tragic news. We were just reminded what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now."
The film was temporarily pulled from the theaters in South Africa the next day out of respect, but returned on December 7, 2013.