Award-winning Harlem International Film Festival Alum Christina Kallas returns to kick off the 2018 Festival with the New York Premiere of her latest film, The Rainbow Experiment, a critically-acclaimed, timely, multi-character drama set in a NYC high school after a terrible accident on school grounds. British filmmaker John Irvin closes the Festival with the World Premiere of his revelatory biopic thriller Mandela’s Gun! – the startling true story of the last 6 months of Nelson Mandela’s freedom before his arrest and life sentence in 1962. Five years in the making, it follows his epic journey as he illegally left South Africa.
In The Rainbow Experiment, things spiral out of control in a Manhattan high school when a terrible accident involving a science experiment injures a kid for life. A who-dun-it with a how-they-saw-it leads to an explosion of emotions touching the teachers, the parents, the school authorities and ultimately, the students.
The evening will be presented by one of the world’s most revered filmmakers, Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay, Vanity Fair, Queen of Katwe) — the festival’s annual Mira Nair Award for Rising Female Filmmaker is named in honor of her. The Rainbow Experiment is a contender for this award. It will be introduced and followed by a Director Q&A with celebrated film historian and author Annette Insdorf, Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University whose books include Francois Truffaut; Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski and Cinematic Overtures: How to Read Opening Scenes.
Christina Kallas’ tense ensemble drama 42 Seconds of Happiness received a number of awards in international festivals in the U.S. and abroad–including Best Ensemble at Harlem International in 2016. The Rainbow Experiment is her sophomore feature film as a director, and one of five works-in-progress selected last year for the prestigious U.S. in Progress Paris program. The film debuted at the Slamdance Film Festival in January, followed by screenings at Cinequest, the DC IndependentFilm Fest and the Garden State Film Fest where it won the Best Alternative Feature Award. It is now nominated for a number of awards at both the Cleveland International Film Fest, and the Ashland Independent Film Fest, and will have its international premiere at the Moscow International Film Festival.
Mandela’s Gun! was shot in 6 countries – and is the first ever British, South African and Algerian co-production. Oddly enough, this is somehow the first time a South African actor has ever been filmed playing the role of this iconic figure. Tumisho Masha gives an uncanny performance at the hands of John Irvin, who is no stranger to working with talent, having directed everyone from Ben Kingsley to Christopher Walken and credited for discovering a young Don Cheadle. The film has been endorsed by The Mandela Foundation and is up for several awards at this year’s Harlem International Film Festival.
The film reveals extraordinary new evidence about not only the man himself and the brave individuals & nations who risked their lives to struggle alongside him, but also marks the first onscreen confession by one of the CIA agents who orchestrated Mandela’s final betrayal and capture at the hands of the Apartheid regime.