Anant Singh’s freedom movies to screen globally as SA celebrates 30 years of democracy

Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”. Picture: Supplied

Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”. Picture: Supplied

Published May 2, 2024


Since the mid 80’s award-winning film-maker Anant Singh has been making films that showcase South Africa’s journey from apartheid to democracy.

Some of these national treasures include “Place of Weeping”, the first anti-apartheid film to be made entirely in South Africa by South Africans, “The Stick”, “Cry, the Beloved Country”, “Countdown to Freedom”, the Oscar-nominated “Yesterday” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”.

Singh said that while these stories make for great film material, it also makes viewers aware of a very important time in history.

“Our history and the stories of our resilient people is great film material. This, together with the legacy of trying to make a difference in the journey of creating awareness of the South African reality of the time was very important to make these films,” he said.

Overall, Videovision Entertainment has produced more than 80 feature films over the past 30 years in South Africa, the US, UK, Canada and Hong Kong.

As South Africa celebrates 30 years of democracy this year, Videovision Entertainment has partnered with the Department of International Relations to make available a selection of freedom films to be screened at South African diplomatic mission events around the world until later this year.

Some of these include “Countdown to Freedom – The 10 Days That Changed South Africa”, which documents the first free and fair elections in 1994, the all-time classic “Sarafina!”; “Red Dust”, the intense, suspense drama set against the backdrop of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and “Yesterday”.

“The stories of these films reflect the journey of South Africa and I am very honoured and proud to have the ability to share this with the people of the world,” Singh said.

“Ironically the battles going on in so many of the countries in the world today are very much the battles we endured with right wing oppression,” he said.

The screening programme kicked off on Freedom day, April 27, with the screening of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” in Zurich, Switzerland.

The award-winning film is directed by Justin Chadwick and stars Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela.

For those who haven’t watched these South African freedom films, Singh said: “Films are a reflective journey, a celebration of hope and have many facets of their narrative of storytelling.

“I think the reflection of watching ‘Sarafina!’ or ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ or other films 20 or 30 years later give people, especially the younger generation a context of where, how and the achievements of our freedom fighters and the legacy that was dreamed of.”

Singh note that, these days, people in their 20s and 30s take their vote for granted and do not realise that they have the ability to make a difference in society.

“Freedom and democracy was a very hard-fought battle and it was a huge honour and privilege to have played a small part in the outcome of our journey of trying to achieve freedom.

“I cherish the freedom and democracy we enjoy today and appreciate the sacrifices of activists, especially those who sacrificed their lives,” he said.

In commemorating SA’s three decades of democracy, Videovision Entertainment has also produced a two-and-half-minute film showcasing its productions over the years, which have captured the hearts and minds of South Africans and people all over the world.

This short film captures the indomitable spirit of South Africans and the committed cast and crew who worked tirelessly to make these timeless films a reality.