Dara Kell - Co-Director / Producer
Dara Kell is a South African filmmaker and editor. She co-directed “Dear Mandela”, which won multiple awards including Grand Jury Prize at the Brooklyn Film Festival and Best South African Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival. The film was broadcast across Europe and the African continent, and on PBS in the United States. It was nominated for an African Academy Award and has been translated into 10 languages. “Dear Mandela” is the centerpiece of a global community engagement project that educates slum residents about their housing rights and inspires young people to become leaders. Strategic screening tours of the film have taken place in Haiti, Mali and Brazil, with tours forthcoming in India, Nigeria and South Africa. Dara was commissioned to create a series of films about children’s perspectives of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Filmed in Brazil’s army-occupied favelas, the documentaries are part of a campaign to make mega sporting events more safe and fair for children. Dara’s short film about jailed Uyghur dissident Ilham Tohti was created for PEN America and is being used to advocate for Tohti’s freedom in China. Dara’s most recent editing work is featured on Albert Maysles’s film “Iris” which premiered at the 2014 New York Film Festival. She was co-editor of “The Reckoning” (Sundance Film Festival, 2009) and was an additional editor on the Academy Award-nominated “Jesus Camp”. She won a New York Emmy Award for her editing work, and is the recipient of Participant Media’s ‘Outstanding Filmmaker’ award, representing Africa. Dara runs New York-based production company Sleeping Giant together with her filmmaking partner and husband Christopher Nizza. Their work has been supported by the Sundance Institute, the New York State Council on the Arts and the Ford Foundation.

Christopher Nizza - Co-Director / Producer

is a New York born, bred and based filmmaker and editor whose Emmy Award-winning work includes documentaries, commercials and music videos. His first feature-length documentary film "Dear Mandela" won the Grand Jury Prize at the Brooklyn Film Festival & the Golden Butterfly at the Movies That Matter Festival in The Hague. The film has screened in over 40 countries & been translated into 12 languages. He directed a 5-part short documentary series in Brazil about children’s perspectives during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He produced and edited feature pieces for Figure Skating at the 2010 Winter Olympics and Gymnastics at the 2012 Summer Olympics, NBC’s two highest-rated venues at the Games. He also co-directed "Let Me See That Ponytail Run", an award-winning music video for the alt-country band The Defibulators. .

Christopher Nizza and Dara Kell are recipients of Participant Media's Outstanding Filmmaker Award, representing Africa. DEAR MANDELA is their first feature-length documentary.

South African Co-Producer: Neil Brandt, Fireworx Media

Neil Brandt is a UCT graduate in psychology and law, and is one of South Africa’s leading creative producers. Neil's main focus has been the factual genre, preferring strong character-driven films with a central driving question about the world we live in. Neil is also in advanced development on two feature film scripts with Directors Tim Green and Ralph Ziman. Neil has taken to market many award-winning documentary films, including Angola Saudades, A Lion’s Trail, The Mother’s House, History of South African Politics, Tsietsi My Hero, Courting Justice, Affectionately Known as Alex and Protection, which have won numerous best-film awards locally and internationally, including an Emmy for Artistic and Cultural Achievement, and have broadcast in over 35 territories worldwide, by, among others, BBC, Arte and The Sundance Channel. In 2010 he completed Sea Point Days, which held its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and subsequently competed inter alia at IDFA and Dubai IFF. Neil has also just returned from Egypt where he shot two Witness documentaries for Al Jazeera English, entitled Art meets the Revolution. His first feature film, uGugu no Andile, won best African Language Film at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2009, and best South African feature at the Cape Winelands Film Festival in 2010. Neil has also produced numerous television mini-series and sitcoms for the local South African broadcaster SABC.

He is a partner at Fireworx Media with Dan Jawitz and Bridget Pickering. He is a founding member of Filmmakers Against Racism (FAR) and has served on a number of industry initiatives including the SASFED/IPO Intellectual Property sub-committee, SAFTA’s judging panels, and sits on the advisory board of the People2People Documentary Conference.

Tina Brown – Co-Producer
is an Australian-born, New York-based producer who devised film marketing and PR campaigns for most of the major and independent studios – Paramount, Universal, MGM, DreamWorks and Miramax. She was Editor of an Australian magazine focused on positive media and promoting awareness of global issues, as well as working with the Starlight Foundation to raise funds to grant wishes for terminally ill children.

Matthew Peterson – Director of Photography
is an Emmy Award-winning cinematographer and winner of Australia's top cinematography award, the Golden Tripod. His most recent assignments include the Beijing Olympics, Tour de France and the Ironman World Championships filmed in Hawaii. He has worked in some of the most rugged conditions in the world – from Alaska's Yukon to the Sahara desert. Peterson specializes in high definition Panasonic VariCam and is at the cutting edge of high-end digital cinema. From the Red Camera to 16-mm film cameras, Peterson’s wealth of experience with creative rigging, car mounts and helicopter rigs make him one of the most sought-after cinematographers in the sports world. Peterson is also an accomplished still photographer. His solo photographic exhibitions snap [NYC] and snap [POSTCARDS] featured Matt’s exquisite photos of exotic locations and included stunning portraitures of Ringo Starr and Kelly Slater.

Ted Reichman
is an composer, accordionist and keyboard player focusing on connections between improvisation and various forms of folk, popular music, and jazz. He works as a film composer, record producer and teacher, in addition to performing worldwide in jazz, rock and new music bands. Reichman’s work as a composer includes the critically acclaimed albums Emigré (Tzadik), and My Ears are Bent (Skirl). His work in film music includes original scores for the feature films Rick, The Memory Thief, and several documentaries, including Dear Mandela and Ahead of Time. Songs by Reichman are also featured in the animated film The Year Of The Fish. Reichman was a 2010 Fellow at the Sundance Institute Documentary Composers Lab. Reichman’s work as a record producer includes albums by eco-rocker Kipchoge, and jazz supergroup Endangered Blood, which features Chris Speed, Oscar Noriega, Trevor Dunn, and Jim Black and which was included on many "Best of 2011" lists. In 2010, Reichman joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music’s Contemporary Improvisation Department. He coaches student ensembles in the CI and Jazz departments and provides individual instruction in accordion technique, composition and improvisation.

Aaron Plantenga – Web Developer
has been helping non-profits and small businesses develop and market their online presence since his formative years at the Community Media Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has programmed the Dear Mandela web site in Drupal, a popular content management system.


Ruth B. Cowan is a political scientist focusing on the rule of law in South Africa. Her articles about the transformation of the judiciary appear in law journals in South Africa and the U.S. She is the Founding President of Pro Mujer, a micro-finance organization that lends funds to poor women in five Latin American countries.

Richard Pithouse currently teaches Politics at Rhodes University in South Africa. Pithouse is a former research fellow at the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa and works with a range of grassroots, civil society and church organizations dealing with urban issues including Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Church Land Program in South Africa and the Centre on Housing Rights & Evictions (COHRE) in Geneva. COHRE has special consultative status with the United Nations.

Pamela Yates of Skylight Pictures is Director of 'The Reckoning', the Academy Award winning Executive Producer of ‘Witness to War’, the Sundance winning Director of ‘When the Mountains Tremble’ and the Emmy Award winning Producer of ‘Cause for Murder’. She is a 2008/9 Guggenheim Fellow.

Willie Baptist is currently the Poverty Initiative Scholar-in-Residence and is the Coordinator of the Poverty Scholars Program. He is the Recent recipient of the Educating for Justice Award from the Bread and Roses Community Fund.


DEAR MANDELA is supported by:
The Sundance Documentary Film Program
New York State Council for the Arts
Chicken & Egg Pictures
Alter-Cine Foundation
Participant Media