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MADIBA TO SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM (article first published : 2005-12-19)

Johannesburg based production house, Welcome Msomi Gateway, in a co-production with Threshold Collective, was commissioned by the soon-to-be-opened Museum of The African Diaspora in San Francisco, USA, to make a ten-minute installation piece on the life of Nelson Mandela and the End of Apartheid. This finished film will be sent to the US in time for the museum’s grand opening on December 1.

The piece was commissioned by Belva Davis, president of the MoAD board of directors and a well known and multi award wining journalist and labour activist from the Bay area of San Francisco who is working with the Museum in order to assist with fulfilling of its objectives. She commissioned the ten-minute piece from Welcome Msomi Gateway for a special exhibition at the museum featuring Nelson Mandela, American civil rights activist Dr. Howard Thurman and leader of the Haitian slave revolt of 1791, Francois Dominique Toussaint. This exhibition forms part of the museum’s Grand Opening activities taking place from November 26 until December 2 of this year.

Produced by Wendy Sherrin for Welcome Msomi Gateway, the documentary was directed by Shmerah Passchier and stills photography by Josie Borain, the project Director of Photography was Justin Fouche and the final cut was edited by Tongai Furusa based on research by Ruth Miller with post production facilitated by G Vision and The Video Lab. “This was a very important project for the highest profile South African there has ever been,” remarked Welcome Msomi, “We were determined to make sure we had the right people involved, the right material, and that we delivered the best possible result to the Museum. I believe we have achieved this.”

Welcome Msomi Gateway managing director Erik De Jager explains that, “We wanted to make a unique piece that told Madiba’s story, but by giving a complete picture of the South Africa of the period at the same time. We also took a much more creative approach to the project than the traditional documentary style. As a result we created a lot of our own footage instead of mainly using stock footage and stills. I think this is a nice departure from the usual stale format and gives an accurate picture of who Madiba is and what he has meant to the lives of all South Africans. Hence we used the stories, songs, music and archive footage of the times to add to the unique interviews that we were privileged to be shooting. Overall, we believe we have delivered a unique and accurate portrait of Mr. Mandela, his struggle and ultimate victory; for the museum.”

The piece features unique footage and interviews shot specially for this purpose, as well as historic and archive footage of Mr Mandela’s early years, his incarceration and subsequent release.

The voice over for the piece is provided by Nkosinathi Biko, the eldest son of the late Steve Biko. In addition, artists such as poets Modise Phepkonyane and Mbongeni Ngema and Ladysmith Black Mabaso provide exclusive live performances especially for the film, making it much more than just another rehash of already over-exposed material.

Shot on location at Robben Island, The Fort Prison and Constitutional Hill, the film includes exclusive interviews with key player such as Justice Albie Sachs, Advocate George Bizos, Former President FW de Klerk, Mandela’s former cell-mate Ahmed Kathrada, playwright Mbongeni Ngema and Zindzi Mandela.

The film has been especially made for the museum and will not be broadcast anywhere in the world, making it a unique and important historical piece.

More information from Jack Malatji of David Chislett Publicity & Marketing on 011 486 1411 or 073 168 9654 or visit www.dcpm.co.za




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