The new Mandela International Film Festival is gearing up for its inaugural edition to run Dec 3-13, 2015 in Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela is a patron of the festival and said: “The Mandela International Film Festival is a festival like no other. It not only celebrates the finest examples of bravery in film making, but also encourages and stimulates courageous film making through workshops and keynotes from leading industry specialists.

Festival founder David Selvan, a media lawyer and executive producer, told Screen: “We honour Mandela and what Mandela stood for.” The theme of the 2015 festival will be “hope and reconciliation.” All 400 films playing at the festival will be connected to that theme.

Films will be selected in all genres from all over the globe, and the festival will showcase classic films as well as new ones. They will recruit name directors and actors to programme some of their favourite films related to the theme. “It is appealing to their brains not their brands,” said Selvan of the celebrity involvement.

The programme will show about 40 films about Mandela himself, and members of the Mandela family will speak at the festival.

The team says the festival, planned as an annual event from 2015 onward, will have an “intellectual character” and include debates, panels and masterclasses.

The festival will also aim to showcase South Africa as a shooting location and co-production partner, as well as showing off the tourism appeal of the Eastern Cape. Music concerts will be held at the stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The new festival comes in a year when South Africa’s digital TV switchover means the country’s broadcasters are in special need of content; so the festival team hopes buying and selling will also be part of the agenda.

Backers of the event so far include local and national government, the House of Mandela, South African Tourism, telecom company Vodacom and Thebe Investment Corporation.

The delegation from the festival attending AFM includes founder David Selvan, chief marketing officer Manzini Zungu, head of sponsorship Naniwe Maqetuka, and US representative Regis Brown. They will also attend Dubai and Cannes.

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