Anna Wintour & U2 Host A Screening Of "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," Plus Our Interview With The Director

by Stephanie Maida · November 26, 2013

U2, Anna Wintour

Fashion and music teamed up last night to salute Nelson Mandela and the new film "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom," starring Idris Elba. Based on his autobiography of the same name, the movie chronicles the early life, rise to action, and 27 years in prison of the South African leader before his legendary presidency. The event, hosted in partnership with Burberry, was helmed by U2 and Anna Wintour and included speeches and appearances by Harvey Weinstein, Bono, and Nelson's daughter, Zenani Mandela. We were also able to catch up with the film's director, Justin Chadwick (who's already being surrounded by Oscar whispers) to talk Idris, Mandela, and the importance of humanizing an icon.

What was your biggest challenge in capturing Mandela's life in this film?

Justin Chadwick: Well, we know Mandela from the history books. We know him as the iconic leader. To see him as a man, to see him as a father, as a husband. I had access to men and women who knew him intimately, who had gone out with Mandela in the early days, who knew him as a fighter, who knew him as a man who loved cars, and clothes, and women. We wanted to try to capture him as a flesh and blood man, which makes his journey even more extraordinary. But also, for me, coming from Manchester, was to go to that country, to listen and observe, to make sure that we were real and true to the people we were representing. The people of the struggle, who lived the struggle in South Africa. That was the biggest challenge, to be true. To be dropping the audience into a real, visceral world that's true to the people we're representing.

[Justin Chadwick via]

Have you received any reactions from the people being represented in the film?

We showed it to people in South Africa a couple of weekends ago. Winnie was there, and his daughters and comrades were all there and they all spoke about how true it was to their struggle. So that, to us as filmmakers and actors, meant everything, I have to say.

[Idris Elba, Naomie Harris via]

What qualities did Idris possess that made him stand out for the role?

We didn't want to go for a look-a-like version. And Idris is a star. He's also a very humble man, he's also a gentleman who's got a warmth and a magnetism that is beautiful and very true. And he's a very true actor. And he's brave. To stand in front of 5,000 South Africans who know Mandela, who, this is their leader, to go in and actually be there [portraying] their leader, that takes heart. And he did and he had those men and women on his side because he's a very true actor.

[The Edge, Bono, Anna Wintour, Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton via]

[Olivia Palermo, Johannes Huebl] [Chanel Iman via]

[Theophilus London, ASAP Rocky]

[Bono, Lenny Kravitz]

[Chanel Iman, Helena Christensen] [Anne V., Sessilee Lopez]

[Idris Elba via @GuestofaGuest]

[Additional photos via ©PATRICKMCMULLAN.COM]