Monday, 25 November 2013

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom will be last 'official' presidential screening

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom will be last 'official' presidential screening

White House responds to accusations of biasing the Oscars after Lincoln and The Help benefit from 'Obama boost'

• Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - watch the trailer
• Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - first look review
Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, which will be released in the US on C
Free lunch … Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, which will be released across the US on Christmas Day. Photo: Snap Stills/Rex Features
White House screenings of high-profile films are to be scaled back after US president Barack Obama signalled an unwillingness to get involved in "Oscar politics".
  1. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  2. Production year: 2013
  3. Directors: Justin Chadwick
  4. Cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris
  5. More on this film
A source told the Hollywood Reporter that the recent screening of Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom would be the last "official" presidential screening at the John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington for a while. It is believed the move is in reaction to complaints of White House bias ahead of next year's awards season.
The Long Walk to Freedom screening featured guests including Oscar-winning producer Harvey Weinstein, stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, and several of Mandela's daughters. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln and civil-rights drama The Help are among the other movies that have benefited from the "Obama boost" in recent times.
The Hollywood Reporter said the president's aides had been "bombarded" with pitches from film producers hoping to bring their own socially conscious ventures to Washington since the first presidential screening (of Lincoln) was held last year. Recently both the historical drama 12 Years a Slave and civil-rights biopic Lee Daniels' The Butlerhave been refused official screenings, though the latter was screened privately for Obama.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Weinstein is teaming up with US teachers to educate students about the life of Mandela via screenings of Long Walk to Freedom.
The Weinstein Company, the production and distribution firm behind the film, is working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to create teaching tools including clips, behind-the-scenes footage and archival materials,according to the Wrap. It is hoped they will help students in Los Angeles learn about the life of the South African president and former anti-apartheid freedom fighter. Thousands of high-school students from the city will attend free screenings of the film this week.
"Mandela's story teaches so many critical life lessons and film, as a medium, is an increasingly important teaching tool for modern, tech-savvy students," said Los Angeles Unified School District chief John Deasy in a statement. "This film will complement the conversations already occurring in classrooms across Los Angeles and hopefully serve as a conversation-starter on important, character-building issues like injustice retaliation, and forgiveness."
Weinstein, who chairs the Weinstein Company with his brother Bob, said the educational programme offered a chance to give something back the community. "This film was never just about making a movie," he said. "We knew from the beginning that it would be linked to a bigger cause, a broader call to action, something that would be truly worthy of the name Mandela."
Long Walk to Freedom is due to open across the US on Christmas Day, following a limited release in New York and LA the previous week. It arrives in the UK on 3 January.

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