Interview with 'Mandela' producer Anant Singh
Examiner.com had the opportunity to interview "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," producer Anant Singh. How did you obtain the rights to Nelson Mandela's autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom"? Singh: You know, as a young, activist filmmaker in South Africa I was doing anti-apartheid films and of course I knew Nelson Mandela's story, and it was just sort of a quintessential movie in my mind.
But I never realized it was going to take 25 years, almost, to do. Because it comes with huge challenges, but I'm very proud that we actually managed to get it done.
Q: How did you convince Nelson Mandela to sell you the rights to the film?
Singh: Well you know what happened was I got to meet him about two weeks after he got released in 1990 and we developed a friendship and when he published the autobiography, he chose me as the person to make the film and I was honored by that, but with it came huge responsibility. So it's taken this long because you can't take this very lightly, especially as a South African. So I think we've created something, an independent South African film, which really is here in New York, being able to stand with the best in the world and we're very proud of that.
Q: Can you speak about casting the role of Mandela and why Idris Elba was perfect for the role?
Singh: You know, I think firstly, he was hugely underrated. I think he's highly talented and when you see the film you'll see for yourself. But what I think, also, we needed an actor who was gonna play him from 1948 to 1994 and Idris could do both and that was also very important.
Q: Can you speak about why Justin Chadwick was perfect to direct the project?
Singh: Well Justin and I had done a film together before, a film called "First Grader" in Kenya, and I knew his work from "Bleak House" and "The Other Boleyn Girl," and I just felt that he has the sensibility and something special to do this and of course he has proved that that is totally correct, and he's done an amazing job.
Q: Speak about shooting on location in South Africa and why that was important?
Singh: You know, we shot in many actual locations, the prison that he was held at, where he was released from, Robben Island, the court, the Palace of Justice where he was convicted. So as a South African film we had full access to all of that, which is so important because of its authenticity.
Q: What made Naomie Harris perfect for the role of Winnie?
Singh: You know, Naomi was the only choice that we had for the role and we…she did "First Grader" also, and she's astounding also and is really such a talented actor.
Q: How did you get your start in filmmaking?
Singh: I studied Engineering. I couldn't go to film school because the only film school in South Africa was for white people so I studied Engineering.
The New York Premiere Of "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom" hosted By The Weinstein Company, Yucaipa Films and Videovision Entertainment was held on Thursday, Nov 14. The special event, which was held at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center was supported by Mercedes-Benz, South African Airways and DeLeon Tequila. From the film Director Justin Chadwick, actors Terry Pheto, Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, and producer Anant Singh all walked the red carpet. They were joined Nelson Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi Mandela. The after-party continued at Stone Rose Lounge, where guests enjoyed the “Madame Butterfly” cocktail, which was made of DeLeón Diamante, Grapefruit, Jamaican Jerk, Agave and Mint.
“Mandela” hits theaters on Nov. 29 in LA and NYC and goes wide on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.