This benefit documentary on Nelson Mandela’s June visit to the U.S. avoids settling into a cozy public relations effort for the man who captured the imaginations of so many Americans with his dignity, wit, and unusual candor. Emmy Award-winning director Danny Schechter — executive producer of public TV’s weekly South Africa Now — offers realistic and insightful behind-the-scenes footage from the 8-city, 11-day tour.
Mandela is seen meeting with President Bush, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Stevie Wonder, and Malcolm X’s widow, Betty Shabazz, but some of the more powerful scenes are his encounters with children, like a Brooklyn high school chorus of rappers. Mandela in America captures not only the adulation of the crowds that greeted him but also the delight Mandela displayed as he was received. Introduced to Eddie Murphy, Mandela exclaims, ”Eddie! Good God!… You have kept us so very much entertained in prison, you know!” Part of the proceeds from Mandela in America will benefit the Nelson Mandela Freedom Fund. B+