"It is only in Nelson Mandela Bay that a Mandela International Film Festival can be held. This was an opportunity we could not miss, as the only City in the World named after the World Icon. We are proud to be part of this international event and we will support it fully," Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Benson Fihla said, speaking at the launch of the Mandela Bay Film Festival at the Athenaeum in Port Elizabeth today, December 3, 2014.


The Film Festival is an initiative supported by the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, a company called Thebe Investments, and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.  The Festival will be a 365 days programme that will see about 400 films of international standard screened in different venues in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality area. However, most of these films will be screened at the Boardwalk Casino, Hotel and Entertainment Centre. This will culminate in a major Festival, to be held on December 3-13, 2015. Based on the principles exemplified by former South African President, Statesman, Freedom Fighter and former Robben Island Prisoner, Nelson Mandela, the films will all tell a story of hope,  a fight for freedom, freedom itself, reconciliation and triumph against suffering and adversity.


Executive Mayor, Oom Ben, as he is affectionately known, a former Robben Island Prisoner himself, said that it was no coincidence that Nelson Mandela Bay was chosen as host city for the Festival. "Nelson Mandela Bay has a rich history of untold stories about the trials and tribulations of the people of this City and South Africa as a whole. We are a City rich with stories of the fight for freedom and a democratic, reconciled South Africa. The organisers could not have chosen a better place than Nelson Mandela Bay for this Festival. We as a City also do not take this decision lightly. We are fully aware that hard work lies ahead to make this Festival one of the best in its kind in the world. It is also a perfect time to launch it as we remember the late true son of our soil, Nelson Mandela, after whom this city has the honour to be named," said Oom Ben.  


Festival Director, Linda Khumalo, stated: 'We will make this the biggest film festival in the world. From now on, Nelson Mandela Bay will be abuzz with activity. About 400 films about reconciliation will be screened across the City. The Boardwalk will be the centre for most of the screenings. The reconciliation is in line with who we are as a country -  and what better place than Nelson Mandela Bay, which is the heart of the struggle against apartheid and the City to which former President, Nelson Mandela gave his name to. We want to showcase this, we are making a call the world to give us films about hope and reconciliation'.


Khumalo said that as part of the Festival, workshops, master classes, exhibitions and debates would also be held for film makers, producers and actors across the country. Updates and workshops for producers and film makers will also be arranged to prepare them for digital migration that will be in effect after December 2015. The digital migration will open an opportunity for film makers and producers to produce more content as there will be more free to air channels on television.  


Nelson Mandela's grandson, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, who is a member of the Film Festival team, said: 'It is heart-warming to be hosted by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. We thank Oom Ben and his team for the leadership and support the gave us as we embarked on this journey. As we launch this festival, I remember my grandfather as a statesman, a freedom fighter and a prisoner, but also as a family man and a story-teller. This festival seeks to reach out and uncover stories of the past. This is an opportunity to tell our own stories as far back as the time  of the resistance by our traditional leaders until now. Madiba wanted us to understand who we are and where we come from. It is our hope as a family that these stories will be told.  We need to tell stories of hope and reconciliation, values that my grandfather believed in."


Present at the event and also ambassadors of the Festival were some of South Africa's best-known actors and film makers, with award-winning actor Terry Pheto serving as one of the Festival's patrons.


Issued by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Communications Office.