Film tackles Winnie Mandela’s life story

29 January 2014

Winnie Mandela, a film about the personal and political life of the activist and ex-wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, will open in South Africa on 7 March, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) said in a statement on Monday.

Starring Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson in the title role and Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela, the film tells the story of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s experiences during the turbulent decades of her husband’s imprisonment.

The film is “an epic, often heart-wrenching voyage toward understanding one of the world’s most remarkable and enigmatic women”, the NVFVF said in a statement.

‘Tragic love story’

“I was compelled and moved by the script. Winnie Mandela is a complex and extraordinary woman and I’m honoured to be the actress asked to portray her,” Hudson said of her role. “This is a powerful part of history that should be told.”

It was directed by award-winning film maker Darrell Roodt, whose films include Cry, The Beloved Country, Sarafina!, Yesterday. The screenplay, co-written by Roodt and Andre Pieterse, is based on the book Winnie Mandela: A Life, by Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob, a former journalist.

“The story of Winnie Mandela offers a unique perspective on the South African narrative. Most importantly, I want to focus on the beautiful and tragic love story of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, which was crushed by what history did to them,” Roodt said. “It is tragic that a woman who dedicated most of her adult life to him, ended up divorcing him.”

The film was shot over 13 weeks on location in Johannesburg, Cape Town, the Transkei (Winnie’s place of birth), and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in incarceration, before he became South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

SAinfo reporter