The short story goes… When their shantytowns are threatened with mass eviction, three ‘young lions’ of South Africa’s new generation rise from the shacks and take their government to the highest court in the land, putting the promises of democracy to the test.
Dear Mandela follows their journey from their shacks to the highest court as they invoke Nelson Mandela’s example and become leaders in a growing social movement.
By turns inspiring, devastating and funny, the film offers a new perspective on the role that young people can play in political change and is a fascinating portrait of South Africa coming of age.
Co-directed by award-winning South African filmmaker and editor Dara Kell, and Christopher Nizza, an Emmy Award-winning NYC filmmaker and editor, this is the pair’s feature-length documentary.
It won Best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival, the Movies That Matter Golden Butterfly award and most recently won the Grand Chameleon award at the Brooklyn Film Festival. It’s also an African Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary.
I haven’t seen it yet, but our friends at Africa Is A Country have, and loved it. Their review HERE.
But this isn’t just another good documentary about activism. It takes these questions — of political legacies, of the pressures of the historical burdens on younger generations — and examines them. It isn’t just another film about inequality in South Africa, although it does this extremely well — particularly in one scene where members of the group, exiled from Kennedy Road due to threats of violence against them, are kept in a ‘safe house’ somewhere closer to Durban’s port, and realize ‘the grass really is greener of the other side’. ‘Dear Mandela’ dares to document the rising bitterness against the ANC, and its figurehead — Nelson Mandela — by a generation of young people who feel let down by their government. These are people like Mazwi, who are determined to “write a new Long Walk To Freedom, one that takes into account the lives that have been lived in the shacks” and the broken promises of the ANC.
It continues to tour the film festival and screening series circuit, but it’s not clear where and when it’ll screen next. But when I know, so will you.
In the meantime, the trailer follows below: