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Nelson Mandela Laid to Rest

QUNU –  Today Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest in his childhood village Qunu, South Africa. Mandela was interred at noon, in keeping with his Xhosa culture, which dictates that “a person of his stature is meant to be laid to rest when the sun is at its highest and the shadow at its shortest.”

Britain’s Prince Charles and talk show host Oprah Winfrey were among the celebrities who attended the service, where Mandela’s life and legacy were eulogized by: a tribal chief; a former cellmate; a host of African leaders; a grandson and a granddaughter. Nandi Mandela paid affectionate tribute to her grandfather, recalling his sense of humour and spirit. "We will miss your laughter, we shall carry the lessons you taught us throughout our lives." 

In another moving account, former cellmate Ahmed Kathrada, 84, who was released from prison in 1989, a year before Mandela, recalled “the tall healthy strong man, the boxer, the prisoner who easily wielded the pick and shovel when we couldn’t do so.” “We walked side by side through the valley of death,” Mr. Kathrada said, his voice breaking. “My life is in a void. And I don’t know who to turn to.” Mandela’s coffin, which was draped in the rainbow-coloured national flag, was taken from his home to the marquee on a gun carriage, followed by hundreds of marching troops. Inside the venue, 95 candles flickered beneath a giant portrait of the Nobel peace laureate.
Keeping the Legacy Alive: Nelson Mandela Peace Academy

At Nelson Mandela's memorial service held earlier this week, President Obama stated: "He speaks to what is best inside us." UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said: "Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time. He was one of our greatest teachers." 

In order to keep Mandela's legacy alive and inspire people around the world, Sharon Stone and Israel's president Shimon Peres support together with former Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Alaa and peace activist Uri Savir a first-of-its-kind young leadership online peace academy, to be called the ‘Nelson Mandela Peace Academy’. It is also supported by John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and many more leading personalities.
The African leader, who served 27 years in the apartheid regime’s prisons, became in his lifetime a shining example and symbol for those seeking freedom, equality and reconciliation around the world. YaLa, the young leadership movement of young men and women from the Middle East and North Africa, is seeking to enlist this vision of Mandela to prove that peace is possible even in areas of constant conflict. 

The project was founded by the Peres Center for Peace, Yala and Uri Savir, who negotiated the Oslo peace treaty for Shimon Peres and was key in achieving peace in the Middle East. Uri Savir says the 415,000+ people signed up already on the YaLa Facebook page make it the biggest web-based peace movement in the world. He believes peace at this time must be participatory and actively involve the young Arab and Israeli generation. Peace by people and among people can only be achieved through education. He says: “Our vision is to encourage a new young generation of peace activists. YaLa and its academy is the revolution of the young, Arabs and Israelis, who are fed up with war and politicians.” The peace academy wants to provide online courses from the best peace negotiators and practitioners from 5 conflict zones (Middle East, South Africa, Rwanda, Ireland, former Yugoslavia) as well as seasoned American peace negotiators. 1,200 young people shall be educated in 2014.

Nelson Mandela has been a honorary patron of Cinema for Peace & Sports for Peace at the Wold Cup 2010 in South Africa and we will support the Nelson Mandela Peace Academy. 

Filmmaker and Cinema for Peace committee member Jens Meurer was filming the funeral exclusively, and we will show the first original footage of Mandela with his children, grandchildetn and grandgrandchildren at Cinema for Peace Berlin on February 10, probably with Ndaba Mandela, who said at the funeral: "It was also through Mandela that the world would learn the spirit of endurance, the triumph of forgiveness and the beauty of reconciliation. Indeed, the story of Nelson Mandela is so much the story of South Africa."

We invite you to watch the following trailers on the topic of Nelson Mandela:
  • MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is a depiction of Nelson Mandela's life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa. It is based on South African President Nelson Mandela's autobiography of the same name, which chronicle his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country's once segregated society.
  • INVICTUS by Clint Eastwood tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid.
  • GOOD BYE BAFANA by Bille August  is the true story of a white South African racist whose life was profoundly altered by the black  prisoner he guarded for twenty years. The prisoner's name was Nelson Mandela.
  • CRY FREEDOM by Richard Attenborough recounts how South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country after  attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend the black activist Steve Biko.


Protests in Ukraine – World Champion Klitschko for President?

KIEV – Pro-EU protests in Ukraine have been continuing for weeks now. What started as demands for more integration into the European Union has now become a movement that also calls for the resignation of President Yanukovich and his government. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets and occupied major squares in the capital Kiev.

The current administration is using police forces against the protesters and is paying people from the provinces to join counter-demonstrations.

Cinema for Peace committee member Vitali Klitschko is leading the protests in the streets and plans to become the president of his home country.
We invite you to watch the following trailers on the topic of Ukraine:
  • ORANGE REVOLUTION by Steve York chronicles Ukraine's 2004 presidential campaign, from one candidate's poisoning to the intimidation of voters, acid-bombing of ballot boxes, and the political pressure put on election officials to count votes a certain way.




Peace Agreement in Eastern Congo

GOMA – The Democratic Republic of Congo's government has signed a peace deal with the M23 rebel movement its forces defeated last month. The accord was signed in the presence of regional leaders in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. At least 800,000 people fled their homes during the conflict.

The M23 took up arms in eastern DR Congo in April 2012, accusing the government of marginalising the ethnic Tutsi minority and failing to honour previous peace accords. It was defeated early last month following a major offensive by government and United Nations forces. The UN has more than 19,000 troops in DR Congo, with an attack force given the mandate of neutralising armed groups.

At least 10 other armed groups still operate in eastern DR Congo. They often make money by controlling the trade in the region's minerals such as gold, tin and coltan.

Cinema for Peace has made a field trip to Goma in 2013 and raised awareness and half a million USD  at Cinema for Peace Los Angeles with Ben Affleck for his Eastern Congo Initiative.

We invite you to watch the following trailers on the topic of Eastern Congo:
  • BLOOD IN THE MOBILE by Frank Poulsen, winner of the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice 2011 (presented by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo), is the story about how our phones are connected to illegal mining in Congo (DRC). Every time we communicate through our cell phones we are associated with the crimes inCongo.
  • PUSHING THE ELEPHANT by Andrew Walton, Cinema for Peace Nominee 2011, tells the extraordinary story of a mother and daughter reunited after a decade separated by civil war in the DRC.
  • In WEAPON OF WAR by Ilse and Femke van Velzen, military perpetrators unveil what lies behind this brutal behavior and the strategies of rape as a war crime. During the decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic ofCongo possibly hundreds of thousands of women and girls were brutally raped. Since the filmmakers have showed the film to the military in Congo the amount of soldiers raping women declined from 20% to 5%.

Myanmar Releases Political Prisoners

NAYPYIDAW – Myanmar on Wednesday freed 44 political detainees, the latest in a series of prisoner amnesties by the country’s reformist regime.

There are still thought to be dozens of activists behind bars in Myanmar, which has won international acclaim for dramatic changes since the end of outright military rule nearly three years ago.

Hundreds of dissidents have been freed since 2011 and President Thein Sein has pledged to release all prisoners of conscience by the end of the year. The former general, who took power in March 2011, has earned plaudits and the removal of most western sanctions for reforms that have included freeing hundreds of critics detained under the previous junta.

In 2010 Cinema for Peace initiated the documentary film about jailed comedian Zarganar, “This Prison Where I Live” by Rex Bloomstein and the comedian Michael Mittermeier. Following Aung San Suu Kyi’s request, Cinema for Peace started a petition to call for the release of Zarganar. More than 12.000 people signed the petition and thus contributed to raise awareness on his case and on the injustice in Burma; Zarganar was subsequently released from prison in 2011.

We invite you to watch the following trailers on the topic of Myanmar:
  • BURMA VJ by Anders Ostergaard tells the story of the 2007 protests in Burma by thousands of monks by using smuggled footage.
  • THE LADY by Luc Besson tells the story of Aung San Suu Kyi as she becomes the core of Burma's democracy movement, and her relationship with her husband, writer Michael Aris.
  • THIS PRISON WHERE I LIVE by Rex Bloomstein is a film about the Burmesecomedian Zarganar, a man of rare courage and unflagging humility. One of the first to speak out against his government and a supporter of the 2007 ‘Saffron Revolution’, Zarganar, a former dentist whose name means ‘tweezers’, has been in and out of prison his entire life.

North Korea Brutally Executes Top Ruler

PYONGYANG –The once-powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been executed after being purged for "acts of treachery", state media say. Chang Song-thaek was dramatically removed from a special party session by armed guards earlier this week. It was the biggest upheaval since Kim succeeded his father two years ago. State news agency KCNA said Mr Chang had admitted at a military trial on Thursday to attempting to overthrow the state, and was executed immediately. 

Observers have said that Chang’s execution could be a sign to would-be reformers in North Korea. State-run television had also immediately censored Chang out of any footage where he appeared publicly.
We invite you to watch also the following trailers on the topic of North Korea:
  • AS ONE by Moon Hyun-Sung is a 2012 South Korean cinematic retelling of the first ever post-war Unified Korea sports team which won gold at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba, Japan.
  • CAMP14 by Marc Wiese tells the story of Shin Dong-Huyk, a political prisoner in a North Korean re-education camp. He was forced to labor since the age of six and completely separated from the outside world until he managed to escape at the age of 23. It was nominated for a Cinema for Peace Award in 2012.
  • KIMJONGILIA by N.C. Heikin exposes the propaganda system of North Korea. It was nominated for the Cinema for Peace Award for the Most Valuable Documentary of the Year in 2010.