Montblanc hosted the U.S. premiere of their Power of Words film project at NeueHouse in New York City on Friday, December 5th in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life and the positive ways in which he transformed societies and lives worldwide. This screening fell on the heels of the film project's international premiere, which was held in Cape Town, South Africa on November 13th with Mandela's family in attendance.
Created in partnership with Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Power of Words project inspires filmmakers to explore the written legacy of influential figures using film. The series, made possible by Montblanc, takes a look at the teachings and writings of Nelson Mandela as inspiration.
Five filmmaker teams interpreted a selection of Nelson Mandela's quotes, shooting and editing five short narrative films based on the South African leader's words. Special guest contributor and world-renowned photojournalist Steve McCurry also translated Mandela's words into images, creating a specially curated photography exhibition inspired by the project that will open in summer 2015 at the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Directors commissioned to bring the words of Mandela to life over the last six months are Mira Nair, Ramin Bahrani, Eva Weber and James Marsh, Hank Willis Thomas, Zippy Kimundu and Nabil Elderkin. Five of TFI's Tribeca Film Fellows - US-based high school and college students who completed a year-long fellowship through the Institute - were selected to work in partnership with the established filmmakers to produce the short films. Their participation underscores the importance of connecting Mandela's legacy to present generations.
"As a Maison rooted in the culture of writing, we are delighted to see the extraordinary words of one of modern history's most inspiring figures interpreted in film," explains Mr. Jérôme Lambert, Montblanc International CEO. "We share Nelson Mandela's belief in the importance of meaningful words and education. His unique vision for democracy, peace, social equality and learning lives on through the power of his words, and we hope that through each of these films, others will continue to be inspired by his legacy."
The screening and celebration, co-hosted by Caroline Rupert, was attended by Tribeca Film Institute Co-Founder Jane Rosenthal, Africa Rising Foundation Co-Founder Kweku Mandela, Chrissy Teigen, participating director Nabil Elderkin, members of the Tribeca Film Institute and an intimate selection of international guests.
The Power of Words project was first launched by Montblanc in April 2013 to bring together a new generation of filmmakers through the iconic words of visionary leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, using his legendary and most powerful quotes in feature short films that give new meaning to his legacy and vision. A short film, directed by Nabil Elderkin, was projected in partnership with Times Square Alliance in New York's iconic Times Square every night shortly before midnight for a month. The film celebrates his peaceful vision in the form of a captivating and dynamic art installation.
Montblanc, along with partners TFI and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, announced the continuation of the Power of Words for a short film project at the 90 Years celebration of the iconic Meisterstück writing instrument in April 2014 in New York City.
Mandela and Montblanc: A Special Bond
During his later years, Nelson Mandela forged a special bond with Montblanc, treasuring the fountain pen he took everywhere. He came to think of his pen as a loyal companion, naming it his "Presidential Pen". This bond is described in "Good Morning, Mr. Mandela", a memoir by Mandela's loyal aide and private secretary Zelda la Grange. Said la Grange:
"On one occasion he went to Sandton City, a big shopping mall on the outskirts of Johannesburg. He was determined to buy a pen and the security detail took him to the Montblanc store."
"Until he got ill, Madiba wore the pen in his pocket, referring to it as a Presidential Pen. It was a fountain pen that regularly had to be refilled with ink."
"Madiba had very few personal things that he was religiously holy about. His two pens, his wristwatch, his empty wallet, his ivory walking stick and the holder for his reading glasses, as well as his hearing aids. The most important, of course, was his wedding ring (...). These items had to be neatly placed beside his bed every night and they were the first items he looked for when he woke up."