July 18 is Mandela Day, a time to reflect on and recognize the many ways a single man changed the world. He serves as a beacon of hope for anyone who has ever gone against the fold and fought for what was right, regardless of the consequences. In our minds all year long, but today, especially, he deserves our attention.
Throughout the years there have been many documentaries, movies, and TV specials made on Mandela’s life and his work. This Mandela Day, watch one of our top six Nelson Mandela features and learn more about this courageous visionary.
1. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
Based on Mandela’s 1995 autobiography of the same name, Idris Elba stars in this film chronicling Mandela’s childhood, coming of age, 27 years in prison, and eventually his serving as the President of South Africa.
2. Mandela and de Klerk (1997)
This 1997 TV movie stars Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine as Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk as they transition to end apartheid in South Africa. De Klerk was the President of South Africa before Mandela took over. The movie follows the two leaders as they worked together to dismantle South Africa’s racial segregation policy and fought for all citizens having equal voting and other rights. The two leaders received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
3. Goodbye Bafana – The Color of Freedom (2007)
Based on James Gregory’s book, Goodbye Bafana: Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend, the film explores the relationship between Gregory and his wife and Mandela while he acted as Mandela’s (extremely racist) censor officer and prison guard.
4. Meeting Mandela: A Staying Alive Special (2003)
Beyonce hosts a documentary during MTV’s international Staying Alive initiative encouraging HIV prevention and fighting stigma and discrimination. It features four young people in South Africa asking Mandela about some key contemporary issues and how they can help affect change.
5. Winnie Mandela (2011)
Shifting focus to Nelson Mandela’s wife, Winnie Mandela discusses Winnie’s role in the Mandela story as she was the face of her husband’s ideals while he was in prison. She herself suffered eight years in prison, and was often forbidden to speak. Jennifer Hudson stars as the powerful Winnie.
6. Invictus (2009)
In a personal favorite, Clint Eastwood directs Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in this story based on John Carlin’s book, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation which discusses the events of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. In a time of intense apartheid, rugby was an unlikely model for change, yet the nation was able to unite over celebrating this odds-defying team.