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Cry, the Beloved Country
MIRAMAX FILMS WORLD PREMIERE October 23, 1995 at the Zeigfield Theatre in New York City

Harvey Weinstein, President of Miramax Films:

James Earl Jones said I should come out and say this is the voice of CNN. If I could talk that deep, I would have had more dates in high school. Tonight I want to tell you about the time I saw Robert De Niro cry, which was five years ago. Nelson Mandela came to New York City, and Mr. De Niro, myself and my brother are partners in the Tribeca Film Center, and Mandela came to speak to various members of the American Film Industry. The event was hosted by Spike Lee, Robert De Niro and Mayor Dinkins. Nelson Mandela told us that when he was a prisoner, the one day he looked forward to was Thursdays. That was the night they let the prisoners see movies, comedies, cartoons, action films. He told us that night in Tribeca that the work of the people in the entertainment industry was important. That our movies have the ability to inspire and the ability to provide escape from the brutality of prison life. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Bob De Niro, great actor, tough guy, crying. I know he was crying, because I could see over my own tears. Whenever I'm on a movie set, and things get tough, we run out of light, sometimes we run out of money, I think about Nelson Mandela's Thursday nights, and I know we have to push on.

Lately I have spent some time in Washington, quite frankly doing what I can in my own way to reverse, what I think, I mean that was a terrible thing, mainly those '94 congressional elections. I would not be here today without my father, who was a veteran of World War II GI Bill, or my own student loans, or my grandfather's hospitalization eased by Medicare. Now that we have the financial success, that we don't need that much, I am appalled that others would try to take these benefits away from Americans who need help.

Over the last year my wife and I have been privileged to spend time with the President and the First Lady. They are kind, compassionate people, who truly care. As a matter of fact, if I was making a movie about them, I would call it "The Underrated Presidency," for they have sailed against the wind, they have sailed against the NRA, the ban on automatic weapons, the fight for civil rights, gay rights, family leave, affirmative action, women's rights, health care. We have suffered no worse, thank God, and the economy is on the rebound. And while no one person has a total cure-all, it's important that our leaders care.

When I asked Mrs. Clinton to be the honorary chairwoman of the event, it was to be in name only. She wasn't expected to attend, but she came because she cared. Now as far as my movie "The Underrated Presidency" goes, I don't know who we can get to play the President. But there is no doubt that this accomplished, smart and compassionate Hillary Rodham Clinton should play herself. One quick thing, since this is audience participation, it's the First Lady's birthday on Thursday, and I hope you join me in wishing her Happy Birthday and sing it with me.

Ladies and Gentleman, the First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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Paper Edition © Copyright 1948 by Alan Paton
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