By Ron Allen, NBCnews.com, TheGrio.com

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Nelson Mandela and life long friend Ahmed Kathrada

I think he would be pleased.” The words of Ahmed Kathrada, one of Nelson Mandela’s closest confidants, giving what he thinks would be Mandela’s assessment of the new film based on his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. “This will be the first fairly complete resume of his life from childhood onward,” Kathrada said. He is a legendary ant-apartheid activist himself, and former political prisoner with Mandela on the notorious Robben Island. (…)

This dramatic look at Mandela’s life is perhaps even more poignant now, with Mandela still in critical condition at home. It’s now been more than 100 days since he became seriously ill early in June. Kathrada, who rarely speaks about Mandela’s condition publicly, revealed that he visited Mandela in the hospital about a month ago. (…)images-9

is a powerful epic that begins with Mandela as an 8-year-old growing up in the rural hinterland. The story moves chronologically to Mandela as a teenager, then as a 35-year-old firebrand activist and attorney. It culminates with Mandela as the newly elected president of South Africa.

“It’s an opportunity to engage the legacy,” said Luvuyo Mandela, 29, one of Mandela’s great-grand children, also there for the screening. “What is it that you think [Mandela] would want people to take from the film,” I asked. “That he was a human being, he came from humble beginnings and he rose to what people may call his calling in life,” the young Mandela, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, said, adding, “if you feel there’s something in your community in your sphere of influence that your can positively affect, do so.” (…)

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Idris Elba will be playing Nelson Mandela in the upcoming film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

While there have been several films about aspects of Mandela’s life, like Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, with Morgan Freeman as Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom is truly unique because Mandela commissioned it himself. He personally selected South African filmmaker Anant Singh to produce it. A project that Singh says started 25 years ago, when he first sent a letter to Mandela, while he was still in prison, raising the possibility of making a movie about his iconic life.

“It has been a huge responsibility,” says Singh of the 35-million-dollar production. Not huge by Hollywood blockbuster standards, but the biggest budget film ever done in South Africa by South Africans. “ I think audiences around the world are ready for this epic biopic,” Singh said. He’s just back from the Toronto film festival, where the entire movie was shown. He says the audience gave a standing ovation that lasted through seven minutes of closing credits. The film, he said, “is touching people’s hearts.”(…)

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