I recently got the opportunity to go to a screening of the film Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom and while I was impressed with the film itself, the PR strategy behind the screening was notable. The screening was sponsored by Coca Cola and the primarily audiences were college students and professors. Upon arriving to the theater, I saw signs encouraging attendees to tweet and Instagram their experience and include #MANDELA in the posts. While we waited in line, the workers took pictures of us holding the signs and posted it on their social media accounts. They even had a contest as as an incentive to get attendees to post. The person who took the best photo would receive a prize at the end of the night. While I didn’t win the prize, it was fun participating.
There was also a red carpet with a step and repeat banner in the background. I was so excited because it felt like I was at a movie premiere (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one!)
There were volunteers everywhere with their bright red shirts with #MANDELA printed in bold white letters. While the shirts were simple, they were still eye-catching and great promotion for the event. I wanted to ask for a shirt but I didn’t want to seem strange lol.
This is a photo of me and my friend Sierra from Atlanta who goes to Georgetown! Reunited in DC!
While we were munching on complimentary popcorn and soda (everyone loves freebies), we watched live tweets and photos on the screen instead of previews.
Another perk of the screening was the Q&A session with Justin Chadwick, the director of the film and Naomi Harris, who plays Winnie Mandela. It was a pleasure hearing about their experience creating the film in South Africa. Chadwick mentioned that he conducted a lot of research before filming, including speaking with Mandela and his family and the civilians who were fighting to end apartheid. He went back to Mandela’s home village just to get a sense of who he was as a person and where he came from.
Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom was an incredible film. I have admired Nelson Mandela for years for his leadership and willingness to sacrifice for his country, but I didn’t know much about his background. One aspect of the film that I enjoyed most was the humanistic approach. Instead of portraying Mandela solely as an icon, the director showed who Mandela was as a man. Since the film didn’t hide his flaws, the audience was able to connect with Mandela on a more personal level.
I also appreciated the emphasis on the role that Nelson Mandela’s wife, Winnie Mandela, played in the fight against apartheid. As Naomi Harris mentioned during the Q&A session, often times women get erased from history. Winnie was by Nelson’s side the entire time, even while he was in prison for 27 years. It was amazing to see her go from Nelson’s angelic newlywed to a strong-willed radical fighting for justice.
Above all, I appreciate that this film helped me learn more about aparthied and oppression in South Africa. I can’t imagine a foreign government taking control of my country and denying my rights. The civilians of South Africa were prisoners in their own home and when they fought back, it often ended in a bloody battle. Nelson and Winnie Mandela sacrificed their own life to bring justice to their homeland. They are heroes not only to South Africans, but to all people.