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

Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States:

Thank you so much Harvey. Thank you very much. Who's counting any more? Thank you for what you said, but thank you for making a movie like this out of a book that many of us read, and it was our first introduction to apartheid, to South Africa, to the struggles in that country. For me, being part of this event is a rare personal honor because of all of the world leaders I have met, there is none who stands higher in my esteem than Nelson Mandela. I have admired him from afar and for all the reasons that all of us know have cheered him on and applauded his courage in confronting his own personal challenges, twenty-seven years in prison, and then watched with great admiration as he has lead his country.

But there was a particular moment that I wanted to share this evening that, as many of you may recall, occurred during President Mandela's inaugural, which fits in with the story of this extraordinary movie you are about to see. Following the inaugural, which in itself was moving and overwhelming, with its symbolism and significance for all of us, there was a great lunch that was held on the grounds of the President's house which now was occupied by President Mandela. Under a tent where all of the foreign visitors were being hosted, President Mandela stood up during the lunch and said very simply, that he had invited to his inaugural three of his former jailers, because he had gotten to know them as men during his years of imprisonment. And through that simple gesture he said more to all of us than any great speech could have about the importance that he gave to forgiveness, to reconciliation, to building a future rather than rehashing the past.

I think that example is one we all could use in our own personal lives, and in the life of our country today. Each of us has an opportunity every single day to forgive, to be reconciled, to reach out, to cross the lines that too often divide us of race, or sex, or age or any other artificial barrier to our humanity. That is what this movie is about, that is what Nelson Mandela's life has been about, that is what the new South Africa is trying so hard to be about. And here at home, when we are confronting decisions that on paper seem to be only about dollars and cents, let's remember they're really about values, about the kind of people we are, and in particular, whether we are willing to support those who are vulnerable among us -- children, the elderly -- whether we will stand up for what we know is right rather than giving in to the moment. Although probably none of us in this theater will be in prison for twenty-seven years, thank goodness, each of us has our own challenges, but each of us is blessed with all kinds of opportunities to do better every single day.

If it could be done at a time that Cry, the Beloved Country is written about, if it could be done from inside the walls of a prison, if it could be done in a country that is struggling to overcome so many challenges, then why on earth can't we, in the richest, most blessed country in the world, do more to heal ourselves, reach out, help each other and build the kind of future we can be proud of. That to me is the message and challenge of this movie to America. Thank you all very much.

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Paper Edition © Copyright 1948 by Alan Paton
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