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Nelson Mandela's grandson in Utah to promote film on forgiveness

Published: Friday, Jan. 17 2014 7:25 p.m. MST

The documentary "Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness," will be screened Saturday in Park City. Kweku Mandela, grandson of former South African President Nelson Mandela, is in Utah to help promote the film and his charities.

Schalk van Zuydam, AP

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SALT LAKE CITY — Kweku Mandela remembers when he first met his grandfather.

His five-and-a-half-year-old self picked up on what he called an "aura" of love from Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who, after 27 years in prison, ushered the country out of white minority rule.

He remembers his grandfather teaching by example that dialogue was the only way to move the country forward.

"One of the things that I loved about my granddad is that he was a connector. He liked to connect people together and make them understand that they weren't so separated, you know, they weren't so different ultimately," he said.

"We all had common ground. So that's definitely something that I want to explore and I want to promote and I want to understand better each and every day."

Mandela will be part of a panel to promote the film "Beyond Right & Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness," and address film themes of forgiveness and justice, Saturday during the 6th Annual Sundance Collective Conference in Park City. The film will also be screened on Saturday in Salt Lake City and Park City.

The Sundance Collective Conference brings film and business leaders together with social impact movies. It runs in conjunction with, but not as a part of, the Sundance Film Festival.

Other panelists include James Ferrell, Arbinger Institute managing partner, and "Beyond Right and Wrong" co-director and executive producer Lekha Singh.

"We live in such a divided world, and I think this film shows us just a small glimpse of how when we sit around a table, how when we learn about the other side, we can be that much closer I guess. That much more understanding at the end of the day," Mandela said.

"Beyond Right and Wrong" focuses on the path to forgiveness for those affected by violent conflicts, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Rwandan genocide and troubles in Northern Ireland.

One man in the movie, Jean-Baptiste Ntakirutimana, lost his immediate family, including his mother and 11 brothers, in the Rwandan genocide. He talked about the struggle to forgive the man who killed his mother.

"My mind was full of him. He was in prison, but I was his prisoner," he said.

He eventually visited the incarcerated man. Initially filled with hatred, Ntakirutimana softened when he saw that the man was trembling as he got closer.

Ntakirutimana pressed the man to see what he would say to his mother if she were to come back. After being asked three times, the man said he would ask her for forgiveness.

“I told him that I came to see him to give him forgiveness. On my own behalf, on behalf of my family and on behalf of my mother,” Ntakirutimana says in the film.

"Beyond Right and Wrong" weaves together similar stories of individual struggles with justice, revenge and mercy.

The themes of understanding and forgiveness are poignant with Martin Luther King Day approaching.

Saturday's panel and screenings also mark the beginning of the Beyond Right and Wrong 2014 Viewership Campaign.

The goal of this campaign is to get 1 million people to view the film online.

For every 10,000 online viewers a charity partner — including the Anasazi Foundation, Free the Children, Malala Fund, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Africa Rising and Women for Women International — will receive $5,000 from an available $500,000 given by individual donations and from Operation Kids Foundation and other organizations.

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