THE Nelson Mandela International Film Festival will be launched in New York tomorrow, an initiative which promises to place Nelson Mandela Bay on the global map.
Former president Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla, 39, is the brains behind the event which will see international movie stars and directors flock to the Eastern Cape next year.
Speaking shortly before boarding his flight to New York last night, Mandla, the chief of Mvezo, said Nelson Mandela Bay had been picked to host the festival because it was the only metro in South Africa named after his grandfather.
He said not only was the Eastern Cape “the home of legends”, but Madiba’s comrades, anti-apartheid activists Raymond Mhlaba and Govan Mbeki, were also buried in Port Elizabeth.
“A number of successful movies have been filmed in South Africa in the past, such as Invictus and Safe House. It is time we promote South Africa, and specifically the Eastern Cape, as a destination for movie producers,” Mandla said.
“The Eastern Cape has so many stories ready to be told.” The event will be announced at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York tomorrow.
In 2002, Nelson Mandela addressed the festival, offering his support to a venture aimed at revitalising artistic development in lower Manhattan after the 9/11 tragedy. Eleven years later, the global icon’s grandson will take to the same podium to launch a festival in his name.
Mandla said the event would then be marketed at other festivals around the world, such as the Black Train dance festival in San Francisco. “We are thrilled to have the support of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and are in talks with various entities to participate in the festival,” he said.
Mandla, who is passionate about arts and culture, said he had been toying with the idea of a festival for the past three years.
Yesterday, Mandla also announced that playwright, director and producer Dr Maya Angelou had accepted the role of honorary global ambassador of the Nelson Mandela International Film Festival.
Angelou is also a best-selling author, civil rights activist, educator and historian.
The festival will honour the film, entertainment and media legends that helped keep South Africa top of minds during apartheid.
The project is also backed by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency.
The festival will run from December 3 next year.
Eastern Cape Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Mcebisi Jonas said the festival had the potential to reposition Nelson Mandela Bay as a global city.
Deputy mayor Chippa Ngcolomba said it would be a great economic boost to the city. – Kathryn Kimberley