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a letter to nelson mandela

A Letter to Nelson Mandela provides an affectionately critical look at Mandela, his status as a global icon, and his role in the reforms that swept South Africa in the 1990s.
The film juxtaposes director Khalo Matabane’s quest to make sense of current South African and global politics with the opinions of people who have known Mandela, or whose perspectives and destinies have in some way been shaped by him. Matabane’s cast of interviewees includes the Dalai Lama, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Albie Sachs, Ariel Dorfman, Nuruddin Farah, Pumla Gqola, Wole Soyinka, Ronnie Kasrils, Zubeida Jaffer, and several other extraordinary leaders in the arts, civil society and world affairs.
Matabane also gives weight to the “ordinary” victims of political oppression – people like Charity Kondile, who refuses to forgive her son’s Apartheid-operative murderer, Dirk Coetzee, despite South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. “I’m just an ordinary mother, I’m not in parliament, I’m just flesh,” says Kondile.
The film represents a passionate personal journey for Matabane. As a child, he had perceived Mandela as “a character from folk tales” – a superhuman being whose powers would drive evil from the land. Now, in his voiced “letter”, Matabane asks Mandela to explain his key political decisions, and wonders about  about the fallible human being behind the media’s hagiographies.
The “letter” provides the binding thread for the film’s interviews, which were conducted at locations across the globe.
A Letter to Nelson Mandela is a co-production between Born Free Media and Christian Beetz and Kerstin Meyer-Beetz from Gebrueder-Beetz Film Productions in Berlin.  It is supported by the ZDF/Arte, Storyville BBC, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, the Department of Trade & Industry of SA, the National Film & Video Foundation of SA, CASA Africa, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, and the Gauteng Film Commission.
The 85-minute documentary will be screened by the BBC, ZDF/ ARTE and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation in 2014.


production info

Directed by: Khalo Matabane
Produced by: Carolyn Carew with Christian Beetz & Kerstin Meyer-Beetz
Original Air Date: 2014
Aired On: BBC 4; ZDF/Arte; DR; YL; NHK