Anant Singh

Biography

Born and raised in apartheid South Africa in the eastern coastal city of Durban, Singh began his film career at age 18 when he left his studies at the University of Durban-Westville to purchase a 16mm movie rental store. From there, he moved into video distribution, forming Videovision Entertainment and then progressed into film production in 1984 Place of Weeping, the first anti-apartheid film to be made entirely in South Africa.

Anant Singh is recognised as South Africa’s pre-eminent film producer, having produced more than 80 films since 1984. He is responsible for many of the most profound anti-apartheid films made in South Africa, among which are “Place Of Weeping,”Sarafina! and Cry, the Beloved Country.  

Nelson Mandela called him “a producer I respect very much…a man of tremendous ability” when he granted him the film rights to his autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom. The film titled Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, is directed by Justin Chadwick and stars Idris Elba as Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela. The film has received wide critical acclaim internationally, and received prestigious award recognitions, including Academy Award and BAFTA nominations and a Golden Globe Award win.

Singh is the producer of Yesterday(from director, Darrell James Roodt), which received South Africa’s first Academy Award Nomination in the Best Foreign Language Picture category in 2005, the Peabody Award and an Emmy Nomination in 2006 in the “Outstanding Made For Television Movie” category.

A selection of his subsequent feature films includes: Sarafina! with Whoopi Goldberg, Leleti Khumalo and Miriam Makeba; The Road to Mecca, with Kathy Bates; Father Hood, with Patrick Swayze and Halle Berry; Captives, with Julia Ormond and Tim Roth; Stephen King’s The Mangler, Cry, the Beloved Country with James Earl Jones and Richard Harris; and Red Dust, directed by Tom Hooper and starring Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, a drama focussing on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Released in 2008 and produced by Singh is More Than Just A Game, the moving docu-drama feature which tells the inspiring story of organised football among prisoners on Robben Island (the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were incarcerated by the apartheid regime in South Africa).

The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick, was a hit at the Telluride, Toronto, London and Doha Film Festivals in 2010, tells the remarkable and uplifting story of a proud old Mau Mau veteran who is determined to seize his last opportunity to learn to read and goes to school for the first time, joining a class of six year olds.

Having had its World Premiere at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival is Shepherds and Butchers directed by multi-award winner, Oliver Schmitz (Life, Above All; Paris, Je T’aime) which stars Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominee, Steve Coogan (Philomena), Andrea Riseborough (‘Birdman’, ‘Oblivion’) and talented newcomer, Garion Dowds. The film follows a jaded lawyer, John Weber, who takes on a seemingly hopeless multiple murder case and uncovers scandalous shortcomings in South Africa’s capital punishment system as he mounts a defence for a prison guard traumatized by the executions he took part in.

Shot in Canada is Remember starring Academy Award® Winner, Christopher Plummer (‘Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo’, ‘Beginners’) and directed by Academy Award® Nominated and Cannes Grand Prix Winner, Atom Egoyan. In Remember, Zev (Plummer) discovers that the Nazi guard who murdered his family some seventy years before is now living in America under an assumed identity. Despite many challenges, Zev sets out to deliver long-delayed justice. What follows is a remarkable cross-continent journey with surprising consequences.

Among the documentary features produced by Singh are My Hunter’s Heart which explores the world’s oldest Shamanic culture and how it is now at the brink of extinction; and Once In A Lifetime which celebrates the magic and euphoria of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Anant Singh has also produced notable documentaries, including Countdown to Freedom, about the first democratic election in South Africa, Prisoners of Hope, about a reunion on Robben Island of 1250 of its former political prisoners led by Nelson Mandela, Hero For All which documents Nelson Mandela’s farewell visit to the United States as he stepped down from the South African Presidency. Viva Madiba: A Hero For All Seasons was produced as a 90th Birthday tribute to Nelson Mandela in July 2008 and Obama: People’s President, a documentary feature that explores the unique and innovative US presidential campaign mounted by Barack Obama as well as The Journalist And The Jihadi: The Murder Of Daniel Pearl which tracks the parallel lives of the late Wall Street Journal writer and his Jihadi murderer, Omar Sheikh.

The acquisition of the regional radio stations Oranje (OFM) and East Coast Radio with Kagiso Trust in 1996, led to the formation of Kagiso Media Limited which was listed on the JSE. Providing strategic direction, Singh served as a board member of Kagiso Media, chairman of EastCoast Radio and director of OFM.

Singh is currently CEO and chairman of the Videovision Entertainment Group; chairs Cape Town Film Studios, a state-of-the-art film studio facility in Cape Town; co-chairs the Cape Town Metropolitan radio station, Smile 90.4FM and serves on the board of the Victor Daitz Foundation, a charitable trust which contributes R20 million per annum to worthy causes in KwaZulu Natal.

Singh was appointed to the Board of Governors for Media and Entertainment of the World Economic Forum in recognition of his expertise in the industry; he served on the board of the Los Angeles-based Artists for a New South Africa; the Nelson Mandela 46664 AIDS Awareness Initiative and served two terms on the boards of Brand South Africa and South African Tourism.

Singh was invited to be a speaker at the prestigious TedX Conference at the London Business School in April 2015 where delivered an inspiring presentation entitled, Filmmaking with a Social Conscience.

Singh is a recipient of the Crystal Award of the World Economic Forum and the Lifetime Founder Member Award of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He was also nominated for the 2006 Black Businessman Of the Year Award by the influential business magazine, Black Business Quarterly. The 2007 Palm Beach International Film Festival conferred the World Visionary Award to him for his contribution to world cinema and his production of socially conscious films. In May 2015, the International Women’s Forum, for the first time in its history, honoured a man by bestowing Singh with their Legendary Award for his work and exemplary achievements in highlighting the role and significance of the strength of the female voice.

He was also conferred with honorary doctorates by the University of Durban-Westville and the University Of Port Elizabeth, and the Durban University of Technology.

The South African Film Industry honoured Anant Singh for his significant contribution to the advancement of the industry with the inaugural Golden Horn Award for Outstanding Contributor at the first South African Film and Television Awards in October 2006. Singh was also awarded the inaugural Simon Mabhunu Sabela Film Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 from the KwaZulu Natal Film Commission in honour of his contribution to raising the profile of the film industry in the KwaZulu Natal province and South Africa.

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