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Anant Singh

Film Producer

anant-singh-director

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 1986 with Place of Weeping, the first anti-apartheid film to be made entirely in South Africa.

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.

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.

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.

The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick, was a hit at the Telluride, Toronto, London and Doha Film Festivals in 2010, and was released theatrically by National Geographic Films.

Shepherds and Butchers which won an Audience Award at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival is directed by multi-award winner, Oliver Schmitz (Life, Above All; Paris, Je T’aime) and stars Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominee, Steve Coogan (Philomena), Andrea Riseborough (Birdman, Oblivion) and talented newcomer, Garion Dowds.

Remember stars Academy Award® Winner, Christopher Plummer (‘Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo’, ‘Beginners’) and is directed by Academy Award® Nominated and Cannes Grand Prix Winner, Atom Egoyan.  The film won the Venice Film Festival’s Vittorio Veneto Award, the Cinecolor Audience Award at the Mar del Plata Film Festival and the Best Original Screenplay Award from the Canadian Screen Awards.

The Mexican production, Museo, executive produced by Singh is directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios and stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Leonardo Ortizgris, Alfredo Castro, Bernardo Velasco and Ilse Salas.  The film won the Silver Bear prize for Best Screenplay at the 68th Berlin Film Festival.

Also executive produced by Singh is the upcoming Back Of The Moon which is set in the legendary Johannesburg suburb, Sophiatown in 1958.  The film revolves around Badman, a notorious gangster who, on the eve of his home being demolished by brutal apartheid police, decides to fight them to the death. It is directed by Academy Award® nominee, Angus Gibson and stars newcomers Richard Lukunku and Moneoa Moshesh.

Also executive produced by Singh are the Canadian productions, Through Black Spruce, Clara and The Song of Names.  Based on a Giller Prize winning, bestselling Canadian novel by Joseph Boyden, Through Black Spruce is inspired by the national tragedy of hundreds of missing Indigenous women in Canada.  The film is directed by Don McKellar and stars Indigenous actors Tanaya Beatty and Graham Greene.   Clara is based on an original screenplay,  written and directed by 21 year old Canadian, Akash Sherman and stars Troian Bellisario and Patrick Adams. The Song of Names,  an emotional detective story spread over two continents and spanning half a century is directed by François Girard and stars Tim Roth and Clive Owen.  The screenplay is adapted by Jeffrey Caine from Norman Lebrecht’s novel and the film is scored by Oscar winner Howard Shore.

In honour of the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, Singh produced the documentary feature, Celebrating Mandela One Hundred.  The film traces Mandela’s life from his roots in the rural village to becoming one of the greatest statesmen the world has ever seen, telling the story of a man who became an international icon.

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; 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; Obama: People’s President, a documentary feature that explores the unique and innovative US presidential campaign mounted by Barack Obama The Journalist And The Jihadi:  The Murder Of Daniel Pearl which tracks the parallel lives of the Wall Street Journal writer and his Jihadi murderer, Omar Sheikh which was distributed by HBO.

Recently completed is Ahimsa – Gandhi: The Power of the Powerless which was produced to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth and details the influence of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence how it inspired Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Barack Obama and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States; the Solidarity Movement in Poland; the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, as well as Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

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. He also serves on the board of the Victor Daitz Foundation, a South African charitable trust which contributes R20 million per annum to worthy causes in the KwaZulu Natal province.

In August 2016, Singh was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the 129th Session of the IOC in Rio de Janeiro.

Singh is currently CEO and chairman of the Videovision Entertainment Group; he chairs Cape Town Film Studios, the state-of-the-art film studio facility in Cape Town and the residential development, The Pearls of Umhlanga; co-chairs  the Cape Town Metropolitan radio station, Smile 90.4FM; is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; while his current roles at the International Olympic Committee include Chair of the Communications Commission, Member of the Olympic Channel Commission, Member of the Digital and Technology Commission.

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.

The South African Film Industry honoured Anant Singh for his significant contribution to the advancement of the industry with the inaugural Golden Horn Lifetime Achievement Award 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; and the inaugural Lionel Ngakane Lifetime Achievement Award from the RapidLion Film Festival in 2016.

Singh was awarded the KwaZulu Natal Top Business Personality Of The Year Award which was awarded for the first time in 2016, for his exemplary business achievement, industry influence and for being an inspiration to others. He received the USIBA Honorarium in the Audio Visual & Creative category for his role in the development of the South African Film Industry at the inaugural USIBA Creative and Cultural Industries Awards in 2018.

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

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