Mandela dies during premiere of his movie; announced at end

Posted at 6:12 PM, Dec 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-06 18:21:36-05

Nelson Mandela’s legacy was the inspiration behind the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" that premiered on the day he died. In fact, the former South African president died about the same moment VIPs were walking the red carpet.

The crowd at the sold-out bio-pic was not notified of the revered statesmen’s death until the close of the film. Producer Anant Singh came onstage as the closing credits ran.

He explained that Mandela's daughters had said the premiere should go on; there then was a moment of silence in Oden Cinema. In attendance were Idris Elba, Prince William and his wife Catherine, and Mandela’s daughters.

"It is extremely sad and tragic news. We are reminded of what an extraordinary and inspiring man Nelson Mandela was," Prince William said to waiting media.

Based on Mandela's autobiography, also called "Long Walk to Freedom," the biopic follows Mandela's life journey from his childhood growing up in a rural village, through the anti-apartheid struggle and prison years, to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

The film's producer, South African Anant Singh, says he first started corresponding with Mandela about the movie's rights when the iconic leader was still behind bars.

"It began almost 25 years ago to try and get this story and to bring it to the big screen," Singh told CNN earlier this year. "I have letters in his handwriting modestly saying, 'will people actually want to see a film about my life?'"