Liz Everett, Campus Editor

Exclusive film screening on the life of Nelson Mandela

It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”  Thus the famous words of Nelson Mandela, speaking about the ideal of a democratic and free society in Africa.  

While Mandela’s name may be familiar to most students on campus given his prominent hand in global politics in the 1990s, many students were too young to understand the implications of his work then. The new film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, shows that Mandela’s story and struggle are still relevant and important today.

On Thursday, December 12 at 6:30 p.m., the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture (CEC) will sponsor a film screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.  Out on limited release in a few theaters around the country, the exclusive screening will take place in the Browning Cinema of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.  The film will portray the life of Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid leader who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1998, beginning with his early childhood.

O. Carter Snead, the William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the CEC, issued the following statement concerning the mission of the new Media and Culture Initiative, of which the Mandela movie is a part.

There can be no doubt that cultural attitudes and conceptions of morality, dignity, justice and the common good are significantly shaped by the normative content (sometimes subtle, sometime explicit) found in film, television, music, radio and print news media and advertising.These organs of culture are, for better or worse, instrumental in the moral formation of the public.  In the past decade alone, for example, there have been dramatic shifts in public opinion on fundamental matters (such as the institution of marriage) owing in large part to the influence of the media arts.

The question of how media arts (especially film and television) function to transform culture is a crucially important question that has thus far been under-explored in the social sciences,” Snead continued.  “The Center for Ethics and Culture aims to engage this question in a comprehensive fashion—one that is simultaneously theoretical and practical.  We will launch a scholarly research project to study the question from a variety disciplinary perspectives, such as sociology, history, political science, philosophy and theology.  Engaging the world’s best scholars in each of these areas, the Center will study this question and produce groundbreaking scholarship (in the form of professional journal articles and monographs) as well as popular articles and op-eds.  This project will entail collaboration among and input from the world’s leading scholars in history, religion, political science, media, communications and sociology, including Christian Smith (Professor of Sociology, Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society, University of Notre Dame), the most important sociologist of religion and culture in the country.

Informed by the insights of this research, and working with our considerable (and expanding) network of Catholic and otherwise sympathetic individuals working in key roles in the entertainment and media industries, the Center will contribute to the production and promotion of culturally transformative media.  We will provide programming and resources for the educational formation for artists (such as screenwriters, directors, producers, etc.) that enable them to advance an authentic conception of human dignity and the common good in their work.  Moreover, we will host ‘faith and family’ media events (such as film festivals) to promote high-quality, uplifting art that makes a positive impact on culture and society.  We will also work with artists and producers at all stages of production to create and promote media that will change hearts and minds and form consciences in alignment with the truth about God, and man, and nature.”

Tom Allen, ND alum and principal at Allied Faith and Family, a media-engaged marketing group, commented that Mandela: Long Walk to Freedomis a thrilling, sometimes-shocking and ultimately joyous story of triumph against all oddsa story of forgiveness over revenge, peace over violence, love over hatred.”  Allen will be part of a short panel discussion taking place after the film.

Liz Everett is a senior PLS and English major. She is convinced that it always rains on Thursdays in South Bend.  Email her at