Address by Nelson Mandela at opening ceremony of the first Annual Tribeca Film Festival, New York - United States

8 May 2002

It is a great honour to be here with you at this glamorous occasion of the opening of the Tribeca Film Festival.

No matter how worldly-wise we may feel ourselves, there is a special attraction about the world of films and cinema. And to join at an occasion like this with stars such as Robert De Niro and others is a real privilege.

We cannot come to New York without remembering the horror of September 11th 2001. In many ways the world still lives in the after shock of those terrible events. And the people of this city must surely still be feeling those after effects in their daily lives.

The collective sorrow of a community often brings out the strength and resilience in human beings. We have watched with admiration how the people of this city rallied communally to cope with the tragedy of the events of 11th September.

In the aftermath of 11th September the world was moved to reflect, amongst other things, about how we live together peacefully and with respect for the differences amongst us. There was the danger that the events of that day could have led to greater divisions and hostilities on a global scale. By and large, though, the world reacted soberly and wisely, and we reminded ourselves that we have to enhance and promote understanding and respect for differences.

The arts in general, and films in particular, represent some of the most powerful ways in which such understanding and respect can be promoted.

The visual immediacy of films allows us to enter into the lives of those portrayed as if we were part of them and their world. Film is one medium that almost literally transports us into the world of others.

The producers, directors and actors of films have in their hands a powerful and evocative tool for fostering understanding and, through that, tolerance in the world. It is, furthermore, a medium that is not bound in its reach. It can reach to all strata and sectors of society, and across national and linguistic boundaries.

I thank my friend Robert De Niro for having invited me to be present here tonight. It is a singular honour.

And I wish you well with the Festival and I know that your medium will continue to bring the world closer together, allowing us to share in the lives and cultures of others.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation